Economy Minister Arlene Foster today paid tribute to Leslie Morrison following his announcement that he intends to stand down from Invest NI next year.
Mr Morrison (61), who has been chief executive of the economic development agency for seven years, said yesterday that he planned to retire next March.
Mrs Foster said Mr Morrison had played a “pivotal role in the many successes” which Invest NI had enjoyed in recent years.
She added: “Leslie Morrison came back to his native Northern Ireland in 2002, following a long and successful career in North America and the Far East.
“He has led Invest NI from its formation and has played a pivotal role in its many successes.
“These include major investments by locally-owned companies and international investors.”
Mr Morrison said he had advised the Invest NI board and staff yesterday that he had decided the time had come for him to relinquish the position.
He said: “After seven years as part of the Invest NI team, I believe that it is appropriate for a new chief executive to take Invest NI forward and build on the Agency’s significant successes to date.
“Invest NI has supported the growth and development of companies across Northern Ireland, securing some of the highest levels of inward investment in Europe, whilst delivering support to smaller indigenous companies that have increased their productivity and export capability.”
Invest NI chairman Stephen Kingon said : “It is largely due to Leslie’s creative leadership and commitment that Invest NI has evolved into what is now one of the most successful economic development agencies in the UK.”
Mr Morrison was educated at Dalriada School, Ballymoney, and at Queen’s University, Belfast, where he graduated in modern languages in 1971.