US software firm Revel founder: Corporation tax fall 'will boost us all' and attract companies to Northern Ireland
Founder hails move as he announces 89 new jobs
The potential devolution of corporation tax-setting powers to Northern Ireland could be a "huge factor" in attracting companies to invest here, the founder of a US tech firm has said.
Chris Ciabarra, chief technical officer of Revel Systems, which creates point of sale software for the hospitality trade, was speaking as he announced a new European base in Belfast, with the creation of 89 sales and support jobs by 2018.
The San Francisco firm's software turns tablet computers into a cash register, barcode scanner and payroll manager, for use by small and medium traders.
Mr Ciabarra said that while lower corporation tax was not an influence when he decided to open up in Northern Ireland, it could play a big role in bringing other firms to the region. "It wasn't a factor at the time, because we didn't know about it, but it's a huge factor now." he said.
"I definitely see that being a huge thing for future companies coming here."
Speculation is rife that Chancellor George Osborne could today grant powers to Stormont for the Executive to set the rate of corporation tax.
The UK rate, which includes Northern Ireland, is currently 21%, in contrast the rate in the Republic of Ireland is 12.5%, leaving us at a competitive disadvantage.
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said that such a move would be a tremendous boost for the economy.
"I think it will attract companies that haven't looked at Northern Ireland." she said.
"Corporation tax will open doors that before have been closed to us. That will allow us to grow the economy."
Minister Foster said that the company's decision to locate in Belfast originated from a meeting she had with Revel's chief of staff in June, while visiting the west coast of America.
"It is wonderful to now see that from that initial meeting in Palo Alto, Revel has now chosen to locate its European headquarters here in Belfast." she said.
She added that the new jobs will pay above the Northern Ireland private sector median and that by 2018, Revel Systems will be providing £2.1m annually for the economy through salaries, which are averaging at around £24,000. The firm was founded in 2010 and recently raised $100m (£64m) in a third round of investment.
The business will receive £445,000 from Invest NI and £245,000 of training from the Department of Employment and Learning (DEL) through its Assured Skills programme.
Mr Ciabarra said that the highly skilled workforce that could be recuirted was one of the main reasons for the firm to move to the Northern Ireland.
"We chose Belfast because there was a lot of incentive to come here," he said.
The chief technical officer added: "The talent pool is probably the most important thing, and then of course the money would be second."