The US:NI Investment conference got off to a good start today with the announcement by anAmerican company of a £3m investment which will create 75 new jobs in Belfast.
NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) Euronext, which is based in New York, said it was making the investment in its Belfast-based subsidiary Wombat Financial Software.
The expansion will create 75 jobs, bringing total employment at Wombat’s European development centre in Belfast to almost 200 by 2010.
The development is being offered funding of £945,000 by Invest NI, which said the project would deliver an additional £3.1m a year in wages and salaries.
NYSE Euronext took over Wombat, which has offices in Dublin Road and the University area, in a £100m deal earlier this year.
The announcement was made by First Minister Ian Paisley and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, who were joined by Duncan Niederauer, CEO of NYSE Euronext at today’s session of the conference, which took place at the BBC’s Blackstaff Studio in Great Victoria Street.
Mr Paisley said: "This week, we have an opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland as an investment location to some of the world’s most prestigious companies.
"It is extremely appropriate therefore that this morning an agreement has been signed which will lead to Wombat expanding its European software development centre in Belfast.
"We were pleased to visit the New York Stock Exchange and meet Duncan on his first day as CEO last year, and I am delighted that he has joined us today as a friend and once again as an investor in Northern Ireland and our people."
Mr McGuinness said that with its third investment, Wombat was sending out a clear vote of confidence in the talents and potential of the people of Northern Ireland in growth sectors such as ICT.
He added: "I hope that as delegates return home to the US, they will be taking with them a more positive image of this region, one which is attracting investment and reinvestment from some of the world’s highest profile companies."
Mr Niederauer said that when they acquired Wombat in March, they immediately recognised that the value of the Belfast centre would contribute to NYSE Euronext’s business and customers in Europe and globally.
Wombat’s products are used to transmit Stock Exchange data around financial institutions at high speed so that rapid trading decisions can be made.
During this morning’s session, more than 100 delegates from US companies were being given testimonies by existing US companies which have located here as to the virtues of Northern Ireland.
Among those speaking were Mike Zafirovski, CEO of Nortel, Jim Foster, CEO of Citi, John Spangler, CEO of Seagate, Cathy Brune, chief technical officer of Allstate, Bill Rohner, executive vice president of Caterpillar, and Stuart McGuigan, chief technical officer of Liberty Mutual.
Also addressing the visiting business leaders were Nigel Dodds, the Economy Minister, and Sir Reg Empey, the Employment Minister.