West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Strabane Sinn Féin meeting with Invest NI Chief constructive

Published: 6 March, 2013

A Sinn Féin delegation, led by Pat Doherty MP and Michaela Boyle MLA, held an hour-long meeting with Invest NI Chief Executive Alastair Hamilton at Strabane District Council Offices on Friday to press the body on what efforts it was making to maximize the investment potential of the new Business Park at Melmount Road and to discuss what other additional support the government development agency can provide to assist business and job creation/expansion in the district.

Describing the meeting as an extremely constructive engagement Pat Doherty MP said,

"In 2006, Sinn Féin initiated the campaign for DETI to redress the shortage of available industrial land in Strabane District after being made aware that 4 client companies of Invest NI could not be accommodated locally because of the zoned land shortage problem.

"The end result of this lobby was the announcement by the DETI Minister that Invest NI would develop a Strategic Business Park at Melmount Road. On Friday, NI Chief Executive Alastair Hamilton was in Strabane to mark the completion of the first phase of the Park's development with 16 acres of serviced sites now ready for inward investment/business expansion projects.

"Prior to this engagement, Alastair Hamilton facilitated our request to meet and during the hour-long meeting we had an extremely constructive engagement at which he assured us that Invest NI is proactively marketing the Park to both foreign and indigenous investors as an investment location.

"He disclosed that Invest NI is currently dealing with expressions of interest from the Agri-food, Manufacturing and IT sectors and while he was not willing to discuss 'comercially sensitive' information or details it was encouraging to receive confirmation that negotiations are ongoing with interested parties from each of these sectors about locating in the new Business Park.

"Our delegation pressed Alastair Hamilton on what other forms of additional support Invest NI can provide to assist business and job creation/expansion in the district.

"In discussing the potential of initiatives such as the Jobs Fund which provides grants to small/medium and large employers for each new employee taken on or the Innovation Voucher Initiative, to help buy in specialist knowledge worth £4,000, for businesses of less than 50 employees (which will be once again open for application from 1st April) we re-enforced the need for better dissemination of information about exactly what assistance is available from Invest NI."

"To this end, we discussed the benefits of secondments of Invest NI staff to local councils and how this can enhance access to key business knowledge and support locally and our local councillors will be keen to explore this further."