US economic envoy hails Citi's 500 jobs expansion
The US Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland has said that the province is already a "special economic zone" with unique characteristics above and beyond any other area of Europe.
Declan Kelly was speaking following the announcement by banking giant Citi that it will expand its current operations in Belfast by creating 500 new jobs across its legal and compliance, operations, and technology functions.
The move will bring the total number of staff at the firm in Northern Ireland to over 1,400.
Citi's announcement brings to 750 the number of new jobs announced for Northern Ireland in the past few weeks by US based or headquartered companies following the investment conference in Washington.
Mr Kelly was a main player in the event, which has already been followed by job announcements from Dow Chemicals and the Terex Corporation.
The special economic zones have been identified by the coalition Government as a way to rescue the ailing economy and kick-start the recovery by offering outside and domestic companies better rates and tax incentives to set up business.
"Northern Ireland offers a perfect set-up for companies from home and abroad," said Mr Kelly.
"Northern Ireland already is a special economic zone. People do not just invest here for tax purposes, it is the whole package we offer. We have the perfect skillset. Perhaps our biggest asset is our young people."