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100-job investment is US vote of confidence

The decision of a US technology firm to create over 100 new jobs in Newry is “testament to the energy and drive of those working to gain private sector investment” in the city, according to a leading economist.

Mike Smyth, head of economics at University of Ulster, spoke after US company Market Research Partners Ltd (MRP) — a wholly-owned subsidiary of Newry-founded First |Derivatives since 2008 — announced it would locate a global centre of excellence in the border location.

Mr Smyth said this type of investment was “something to be emulated” and that Newry’s growing private sector, as well as its relatively low proportion of public sector jobs, could make it less vulnerable to public spending cuts.

But he also said the announcement was an opportunity to examine the disparity between business conditions in Northern Ireland and those in the Republic of Ireland.

“It is to be applauded but it must be taken in context. Having two different corporation taxes on this island creates distortion which affects border cities like Newry.

“The Republic has corporation tax of 12.5% and Northern Ireland’s is 28% generally. There have been over 20 big companies recently who have looked at Northern Ireland but eventually chose to locate across the border because of the lower tax rate.”

MRP develops advanced technology platforms, designed to support complex sales and marketing strategies. Clients include Microsoft and Avnet Technology Solutions, as well as other global technology companies.

The company’s plans for Newry could eventually generate more than £2.7m in salaries.

The investment has been supported by £848,000 from Invest NI.

Invest NI’s chief executive Alistair Hamilton, who met US company chiefs at last week’s investment conference, said he was pleased to see the results of efforts to promote Northern Ireland as an investment location.

Mr Hamilton said: “MRP is now the latest company to realise that this region offers talented people and close proximity to Europe, factors which global companies are keen to access |in order to grow internationally.

“By 2013, MRP will deliver 106 high quality jobs paying above the private sector average.”

US economic envoy to Northern Ireland, Declan Kelly, welcomed the news. He said: “Once again, we see a company with US operations looking to Northern Ireland as a strategic |location for global expansion.

“This is one of a number of job announcements we have seen in the last month involving companies with operations in the US, including The Dow Chemical Company, Terex, ATG, |Mercer and BroadSoft. In total, these firms have created over 250 new jobs.”

MRP founder Kevin Cunningham said locating in Newry would help the company “develop further synergies” with its financial software parent company First Derivatives.

“We chose Newry because of the local talent pool,” he added.

Belfast Telegraph