Belfast wins 486 new jobs: City sees off rival locations to secure highly-paid posts
Belfast won out against a number of locations around the world to secure 500 jobs paying salaries of nearly £40,000 at business advisers EY, it has emerged.
Plans for the firm's new Belfast business unit were unveiled by the First Minister at EY's offices in the city centre yesterday.
It is the accountancy and consultancy firm's biggest expansion in Northern Ireland, as it currently employs just 145 people in Belfast.
But the announcement will mean 486 new jobs located in EY's Belfast offices by 2018.
Some staff will work full-time in Belfast while others will use it as a base for overseas work, which could take them as far away as the Middle East. First Minister Peter Robinson said: "The creation of 486 new jobs by EY is extremely positive news for Belfast, as it will deliver an additional £19m in salaries each year and contribute positively to the wider economy."
Mike McKerr, EY Ireland managing partner, said other global locations had been considered by the firm for its new business centre, which will focus on looking after clients based outside Northern Ireland.
But Mr McKerr said the business was swayed by testimonials from other overseas investors during last year's investment conference.
Mr Robinson said securing the jobs in the face of competition from other EY locations was "a real coup".
"This announcement sends an unambiguous message to international investors to have confidence in Northern Ireland as a competitive location from which to grow their business."
West Belfast Sinn Fein MP Paul Maskey also said the investment was evidence of the province's competitiveness.
"It is important that we attract more jobs of this high category into the North and I would commend Invest NI for its support of this project."
The firm already has a base specialising in tax in Poland, for example, and another centre of excellence in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
The scale of EY's expansion is expected to prompt a move to bigger offices in Belfast over the next couple of years.
Mr McKerr said no decision had been made, but the firm could move to the Titanic Quarter, where new offices are being built by Titanic Quarter Ltd and Belfast Harbour Commissioners.
EY's jobs announcement is the second-biggest in April. IT giant Concentrix is to hire 1,000 new staff in Belfast, while Convergys, another US company, is to hire 333 staff in Londonderry, where it will operate a call centre on behalf of mobile phone network EE.