Bombardier as crucial to Belfast as Nissan is to North East
When it comes to major employers in Belfast, Bombardier is what we consider to be one of our anchor institutions - an organisation that has influence and deep economic, social and cultural impacts in the city.
It is by far the largest manufacturing employer in Northern Ireland, and it is critical for the economic and employment prospects of Belfast.
Northern Ireland has performed exceptionally well at attracting inward investment in recent years and can rightly hail successes in areas such as software development, and financial and legal services.
In fact, it is estimated that around 800 international companies are based here in Northern Ireland, employing an estimated 75,000 people.
To place the significance of Bombardier in context, one in every 15 of these 75,000 inward investment jobs is with Bombardier, and the company accounts for about 10% of all Northern Ireland's exports.
The significance of those numbers is hard to fathom, and that is before taking account of the supply chain and wider benefits that the organisation brings to Northern Ireland.
I was struck several years ago, when I was fortunate enough to have a tour of Bombardier's east Belfast site, that there was so much more to Bombardier's Northern Ireland presence than the obvious large manufacturing operations.
I had not until then fully appreciated the extent to which the company is embedded into the local economy through employability and apprenticeship schemes, collaborations with our universities on advanced manufacturing research, and significant engagement and support to community projects and groups. Its significance would be hard to overstate.
People always cite the importance of Nissan's inward investment in the north east of England as one of the most significant inward investments the UK has known.
For me, Bombardier's investment in Northern Ireland is in that league.