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US firm bringing 74 jobs to Belfast not worried about impact of a Brexit

By John Mulgrew

The boss of a top US company that is setting up a major Belfast office has said he is not concerned about the impact a Brexit could have on his business.

HighWire chief executive Dan Filby added there was room to expand the business in Northern Ireland further still.

HighWire Press Inc, a digital publishing company, is a spin-out from Stanford University.

The firm deals with scientific, medical and technical publishers.

It is creating 74 new jobs in areas including software development and customer support, with salaries averaging £34,000.

"We looked at it on this premise - as a place, we can continue to grow in, not just this first tranche (of jobs)," he said. "I expect we will look to continue to grow here."

Many of the company's clients are based in the US, with others in the UK and Europe.

Mr Filby said proximity to customers in Europe was another reason why he set up the business here.

But he said the UK leaving the EU would not have a "tangible impact" on the firm's operations."Not really," he added. "Our business, we are primarily a hosting company. If we need to put employees in a location to get close to our customers, such as sales and marketing, we typically put them in the field.

"I don't think there is any tangible impact on us if the referendum goes through. We were aware of it, but it wasn't a deciding factor one way or the other and it doesn't really impact how we would grow or operate the business."

Speaking about why he chose Belfast, Mr Filby said: "We looked at a number of different locations, a couple of stand-outs. The number one criteria was finding an outstanding pool of talent.

"There are 16,000 IT professionals in Belfast in that unique intersection of government, academia and private."

He also praised the Department for Employment and Learning's training process for potential staff as a "unique" selling point that Northern Ireland had to offer.

Around 50 staff will be in place by the end of this year.

The announcement that the firm was setting up here came last week, as the annual St Patrick's week trip to the US by the First and Deputy First Ministers ended in California.

First Minister Arlene Foster said that the announcement was "a great boost to Belfast's reputation as number one in Europe for new software development projects".

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness added: "HighWire choosing to locate in the north of Ireland signals the potential of our existing and future IT professionals."

Ms Foster and Mr McGuinness went on a US coast-to-coast quest for investment last week, which started in New York on Monday at a breakfast with business leaders.

Their key message centred on the planned cut in corporation tax to 12.5% in 2018, and there was also a particular focus on the financial and digital technology sectors.

Belfast Telegraph