Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

CEO: I was just blown away by local talent

Jam Media had its pick of potential UK bases but Belfast was the city that was chosen as a location for the award-winning and expanding Dublin firm.

Company chief executive John Rice said neither the economic climate nor the recent civil unrest caused by protests over the flying of the Union flag at Belfast City Hall were serious enough to scare them off establishing their new base here.

Jam Media's announcement comes as around 20 creative businesses in Northern Ireland attend the annual South By Southwest cultural festival in Austin, Texas.

Mr Rice said: "We were being courted by a number of other regions in the UK but Belfast won out for a number of reasons."

Not least of that was the feast of local talent which he said he had been "blown away" by.

He said inducements like those from Invest NI were among the appealing factors, as was the prospect of tax breaks in the pipeline for creative professions.

"Corporation tax is a lot more costly than it is in the south but putting together all the benefits, they outweighed that so we chose Belfast," Mr Rice added.

Enticing the prestigious company here, Invest NI offered £280,000 to help secure the 40 new jobs on offer.

Jam Media also received £323,000 worth of production funding from Northern Ireland Screen, which was part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund under the Sustainable Competitiveness Programme.

Revealing attractive salaries worth up to £70,000-£80,000 for senior animators, Mr Rice said entry level pay will sit at just below £18,000 per annum.

And he revealed that year one's fiscal input into the Belfast-based firm marked a £1.4m investment, including office set up and salaries. He said recent recruitment drives at local colleges and universities had so far attracted at least 80 applications, and added he was simply "blown away by the talent base here".

Production manager Paul Shanahan added the company had been bowled over the by "amazing energy and positive enthusiasm" shown by budding young artists interested in getting a foothold in the animation business with Jam Media.