Belfast Telegraph

Invest NI targeting creation of 40,000 local jobs by 2021


By John Mulgrew

Invest NI helped to create 5,900 jobs in the past year and is aiming to add as many as 40,000 over the next four years.

But it acknowledged that the Northern Ireland economy was not likely to see the devolution of corporation tax - regarded as a means of boosting business - until 2019. The Department of Finance has admitted that an original April 2018 deadline for the tax move "may slip".

Invest NI says it "promoted" 5,600 new jobs during 2016/17, in reference to job numbers which firms have pledged to create after receiving offers of financial support to create jobs and investment.

Offers totalled £152m for the year 2016/17, while the agency also said it had attracted 22 foreign direct investors to set up during the year, compared to 20 a year earlier.

Invest NI chief executive Alastair Hamilton said its support in 2016/17 "helped businesses promote nearly 5,600 new jobs against a target range of 4,000-6,000".

"I am also pleased to report that our support in previous years has helped create 5,900 jobs this year across a broad range of sectors including agri-food, digital and creative technologies and advanced engineering and manufacturing."

The organisation also laid out a new business strategy over the next four years to 2021. Invest NI says it is aiming to increase overall sales across its 1,650 client businesses from between £3.2bn to £4.2bn.

It wants to grow sales outside Northern Ireland by anywhere from £2.4bn to £3.1bn.

It is understood former Economy Minister Simon Hamilton gave the green light to the organisation's business strategy before stepping down from his post ahead of the Assembly election.

Of the 5,600 'promoted' posts, around half of those are with Northern Ireland companies.

"Only a fraction of those potential new jobs have yet to be unveiled to the public. It's understood fewer than a third of the 5,600 'promoted' posts have so far been made public.

"That's in part, due to the run-up to the Assembly election, General Election and EU referendum impacting on ministerial announcements."

One of the firms adding jobs in the last year was Woodburn Engineering in Carrickfergus.

It created 10 new posts.

Invest NI's ambitious growth plan is subject to an Executive budget, and whether a new Economy Minister would want to tweak the plan.

Last month Mr Hamilton said that the delay in the expected devolution of corporation tax created a "bit of difficulty" for some investors.

For the year ending March 2017, Northern Ireland exports stood at £7.7bn - up 14.6% on the same period a year earlier.

Mr Hamilton added: "We also significantly exceeded our R&D investment target, delivering £203m of investment against a target of £100 to £170m, due to a number of large R&D projects. We also saw a notable increase in investment by locally-owned companies - £109m, a 93% increase on the previous highest year."

Total worth of prospective jobs which Invest NI says it has 'promoted' during 2016/2017, following offers of financial support

Belfast Telegraph