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Titanic building already a boon for the economy

Ten of the 11 subcontracts awarded so far for work on the Titanic Signature Building have gone to local firms, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has announced.

The Minister was visiting the site of the £97m project to see how contract Harcourt Construction was progressing with the build.

Work on the site - which it is hoped will become a major tourist attraction - began in May last year and the facility will open in April 2012 in time to mark the centenary of the Titanic's maiden voyage. Titanic Quarter Ltd chief executive Mike Smith told the Belfast Telegraph last week that construction was three to four weeks ahead of schedule.

Mrs Foster said yesterday that the finished building - which will include a Titanic themed exhibition - will be a major boost to the province's economy.

"This building will be a landmark tourism, leisure and cultural facility bringing significant social and economic benefits. Tourism is a key driver for our economy and we are working towards a new tourism strategy with challenging targets to increase visitor numbers, the amount they spend and the overall earnings from tourism," she said.

"During these difficult times the Northern Ireland economy is already benefiting from this project, with 10 of the 11 subcontracts awarded to date going to local firms, together with additional businesses here being involved in their supply chains. Additional economic benefits will result from a rise in indirect employment in other sectors."

It is estimated that the Titanic Signature Building will attract around 400,000 visitors annually, of which between 130,000 and 165,000 will be from outside Northern Ireland.