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Invest NI supported firms in south Belfast created 4,150 jobs

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Concerns: The DUP’s Gary Middleton

Concerns: The DUP’s Gary Middleton

Concerns: The DUP’s Gary Middleton

South Belfast companies supported by Invest NI have been responsible for creating 4,150 new jobs over the last few years, according to figures.

The economic development agency provided a breakdown of jobs created by the businesses it supports on a constituency basis in response to an Assembly question from Foyle DUP MLA Gary Middleton.

Companies supported by Invest NI created a total of 20,342 jobs across Northern Ireland's 18 constituencies.

South Belfast, including the city centre, had the highest proportion. At the other end of the scale was North Down firms on 167 jobs. Foyle had 778 and West Tyrone 516.

Overall, 65% of the jobs created were outside Belfast.

Figures covering 2011 to 2017, meanwhile, indicated there were 40,611 roles created, of which 13,655 were in Belfast.

Mr Middleton said: "While I welcome the 778 jobs created in Foyle, I am concerned that the number accounts for just under 6% of the total outside Belfast. I do plan to meet Invest NI in the near future to discuss that there does seem to be an issue in terms of attracting investment to the north-west."

When Belfast does well, other places do well too, but we do need to see more investment in the north-west DUP MLA Gary Middleton

Recent major investments in the area include the opening of a major factory by US equipment giant Terex in Campsie as part of a £12m investment.

But Mr Middleton said more growth was still necessary and the region also needed to address high levels of unemployment and economic inactivity.

"We are the second largest city, so why are we accounting for less than 6% of the total jobs created outside Belfast?" he asked.

"When Belfast does well, other places do well too, but we do need to see more investment in the north-west."

Invest NI said that some of the regions where job creation had been low, such as North Down, had fewer businesses for it to support in the first place.

"Our support is available to businesses regardless of their location and we have offices right across Northern Ireland actively engaging with companies," a spokeswoman added.

"It is, however, the business's choice when it creates jobs and whether it seeks our support to help it."

The spokeswoman said the agency did not offer "direct support to an area, have a bias to any area, or, as has been inferred, discriminate against any one area". She added that recent statistics indicated that almost three-quarters of offers were made to firms outside Belfast.

"According to the most recent data, 74% of our offers were made to companies outside Belfast and 67% of jobs created were also outside Belfast," she said.

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