Belfast Telegraph

Belfast's talent pool helps land 168 tech jobs from US

By John Mulgrew

A US firm creating 168 jobs here has said the attraction of a low rate of corporation tax was "second" to Northern Ireland's talent base.

Bazaarvoice, which works with some of the world's biggest retailers, chose Belfast over the Republic for its new European base.

It's adding the new jobs over the next three years, which have average salaries of around £32,400.

Gary Allison, executive vice president of engineering at Bazaarvoice, said: "It came down to southern Ireland and Northern Ireland. It was a difficult decision for us.

"At the end of the day, the talent here in Belfast was really compelling for us."

The firm works with the majority of the world's biggest retailers, online and collects content, reviews and photographs from customers and filters that through to the retail sites. Some of its clients include Debenhams and Philips.

"The largest number (of jobs) are software engineers. That's where we are starting with. We have hired our first five. We will then expand from that to support roles," he said.

Mr Allison said services, sales and administration are possible areas for expansion.

Speaking about the current political situation, including the Stormont impasse and this week's DUP deal with the Tories, he said: "The city and country has gone through a vast transformation. It's not about what happens in one day, it's where it's going over time."

Bazaarvoice has already hired five staff and is based at Arthur House in Belfast city centre.

Mr Allison said the attraction of a lower rate of corporation tax was "second" to the talent base, and that he "thinks it's going to happen".

The devolution of the business levy is expected to be delayed by around two years.

Alastair Hamilton, Invest NI's chief executive, said: "The proposition is still the same. High quality talent, supported by the universities and colleges and key programmes.

"This project is unique as it covers the full range (of jobs)."

The jobs will include customer service, but the bulk will be software engineers.

Asked about Monday's £1bn deal between the DUP and Conservatives, which includes £400m for roads infrastructure, Mr Allison said: "I welcome the deal that was made. I think the fact that there was an economic focus was really important for Northern Ireland.

"The infrastructure piece is vital... anything that improves road infrastructure and helps people to commute, to be able to get access to jobs, I welcome that

"Also, a very strong piece in the agreement was the broadband commitment."

And on corporation tax, he said: "I don't think there's much more that can be said at this stage... the statement that is embedded in that agreement, that we are going to work towards the autumn Budget to resolve the budgetary element of that is a welcome position."

The new jobs will generate salaries of around £5.5m a year when all are in place.

Invest NI has offered £1.1m towards the creation the new posts, with a further £225,000 coming from the Department for the Economy's Assured Skills scheme.

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