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‘FOI information highlights need for refocusing Invest NI priorities - Anderson

1 August, 2011 - by Maeve McLaughlin

 Foyle Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson commenting on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) projects released under a Freedom of Information (FOI) inquiry has reiterated her criticism of Invest NI’s failure to address the issue of Regional disparity. 

Martina Anderson said:

“These statistics confirm the criticisms that I have been making of Invest NI's failure to deliver short, medium and long-term strategies to tackle the issue of regional disparities – particularly in areas like Derry. But I am hopeful that Invest NI CEO Alastair Hamilton is now in listening mode and I have been working closely with him on a number of projects recently which if they come to fruition will hopefully act as the impetus for further FDI.

“I believe that Regional disparities is one area that Invest NI has failed dramatically in since it's inception with the impression given that so long as it can get regular headlines with jobs announcements in Belfast that that is all that is required of it.

“I have at times felt a lonely voice in my criticisms of Invest NI when exposing how it routinely failed to bring investment to the North West Region while squandering millions of pounds on a new headquarters in Belfast which it didn’t need, rented empty buildings in Derry and favored attracting investment into more affluent regions such as South Belfast.

“These latest statistics provide further evidence for the need of a complete restructuring and refocusing of Invest NI strategy if we are to change the approach it presently adopts to developing the economy. The fact that the average support per job in Derry of £7675, is less than half the support per job in Belfast speaks volumes for the type of job which Invest NI is directing towards the North West.

“Too many of the jobs have been low-wage and insecure. This has done nothing to raise living standards or tackle the poverty and inequality at the heart of our economy. The past practice of Invest NI where it has a fixation that call-centre type jobs is good enough for the North West has to be challenged and refocused on attracting high value jobs in areas such as Research and Development. Attempting to maintain a low wage economy in the North West has proved disastrous for the local economy as it is prone to attracting transient investors who are continually on the lookout for an even lower wage economy to transfer its operations to when the grants here run out. 

 “It is also imperative that Invest NI move beyond the world of favored ‘clients’ where the same10% of applicants continue to receive over 75% of support to all businesses. If such a favored approach is to be adopted I believe it should be towards indigenous industry and R&D.”

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