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Minister to be challenged over Invest NIs track record on Strabane

17 February, 2009


Sinn Féin West Tyrone MP MLA Pat Doherty is scheduled to meet Economy Minister Arlene Foster early next month to discuss what he says is Invest NIs continued neglect of Strabane District.

The local MP, who requested the meeting with Arlene Foster late last year said,

"I will be using the meeting on Tuesday 3 March to bring a focus on several issues of major concern including: the continued failure by Invest NI to provide adequate industrial zoned land to facilitate new investment opportunities/business expansion projects in the District; the continued extremely low levels of financial assistance being provided by Invest NI for projects in the District: as well as raising specific cases whereby clients/potential local clients feel that they have been completely failed by Invest NI.

"Last month, I highlighted the fact that four locally owned client companies with proposed expansion projects could not be accommodated within the District because of the continued failure by Invest NI to acquire additional industrial zoned above its longstanding 2.1 acres holding. This amounts to an completely unacceptable loss of investment and jobs to the District especially considering that back in June 2007, the then DETI Minister Nigel Dodds assured me that Strabane was one of four areas identified in the first phase of Invest NI's current acquisition policy and intimated that 30 acres would be required to meet demand in the medium term. I will be pressing Arlene Foster for urgent action on the industrial land issue before any more opportunities are lost to the District.

"Undoubtedly related to the issue of Invest NI's continued failure to secure sufficient industrial land to meet client demand is the major shortfall in terms of financial assistance being provided by Invest NI to projects in the District, with Strabane only securing about one fifth of the amount allocated to similar or smaller sized Districts like Limavady and Larne. This gross imbalance in funding needs to be addressed by the Minister so that she adheres to the Executive Programme for Government and Investment Strategy commitment to address inequality.

"I will also be raising specific examples of how local Invest NI clients/ potential clients feel that they have been completely failed by this statutory body which is charged with the main responsibility of attracting inward investment/business expansion." ENDS

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