Next week's US Investment Conference has received an early boost from business chiefs — with a clear majority saying they are confident it " will deliver benefits for the local economy".
An exclusive Goldblatt McGuigan Business Sector survey for today's Belfast Telegraph shows that 49% of business leaders are "quitely confident" about the conference getting results, with another 10% saying they are " very confident".
That compares to 15% who are not confident, with just over a quarter of respondents saying they're undecided about the prospects for the US:NI investment conference, which takes place in Belfast from May 7-9.
Michael Clarke, director of management consultancy for Goldblatt McGuigan, said the results showed "expectations are high" for the conference.
The positive anticipation for the conference was the highlight for the Executive in a mixed bag of results in the survey.
Many business leaders are reserving judgment on how the Executive has performed for the economy in their first year in office — but many of them cited lower corporation tax or a cut in business rates as key factors that would win them over.
Large sections of the business community are positive about the work of the Executive in general and Finance Minister Peter Robinson in particular.
But even greater numbers are reserving judgment.
Asked if the Executive was delivering a stronger economy for Northern Ireland, more business respondents said yes than no — but an even greater number said they were undecided. Some 38% said yes, 22% said no, and 40% came in as undecided.
"While there is no sense of major dissatisfaction emerging from the findings, the optimism that our May 2007 survey highlighted has obviously been tempered," said Mr Clarke.
Almost a third of those who believed the Executive was delivering a stronger economy said this was thanks to political stability.