Invest NI release 'best ever' set of results
INVEST Northern Ireland is hailing its best ever set of results after its efforts saw more than 9,400 jobs created in the past 12 months.
The body welcomed 25 new businesses to the north and saw £1.4 billion of investment into the economy.
The number of jobs created was the highest for Invest NI since it started releasing the figure in 2011.
In terms of jobs promoted (those announced during the year but not necessarily in place yet), there was more than 13,820 - up 30 per cent on the previous year.
Invest NI CEO Alastair Hamilton said it had been "a phenomenal year".
“Over the course of the year we made nearly 5,000 offers of support, 93 per cent to local businesses, contributing to our highest level of total investment into the NI economy ever, at £1.4bn. 67 per cent of this planned investment will be outside Belfast.”
The agency said it exceeded four of its five targets set by the Northern Ireland executive's programme for government.
It promoted 37,000 jobs against a target of 25,00 and achieved £2.6bn investment following a target of £1bn.
Research and development investment was £500m against a government target of £300m while the target of £12.5m loans to SMEs was exceeded with Invest NI achieving £30.8m.
However, with a target of growing the value of manufacturing sales to 20 per cent, just 4.9 per cent was recorded.
Invest NI's chairman Mark Ennis said: "At the time the NI Executive was initially setting these targets for Invest NI our economy was still in the depths of a recession and many, including the Invest NI board, felt that the targets would be very challenging. It is therefore a great achievement to be able to report a set of results which, in most areas is so significantly over target, in some cases by nearly 170 per cent."
Mr Ennis said delivering the targets had "not been without its challenges".
"During a period when the global economy, and particularly the eurozone, which is our largest export destination, has performed poorly, we have been unable to achieve the target to support growth in manufacturing export sales of 20 per cent," he said.
"There are many external factors that impact on export growth figures, including currency fluctuations. Sterling has strengthened significantly against the Euro over the last year which reduces the competitiveness of our exports in the Eurozone markets.
Enterprise minister Jonathan Bell said the results were "tremendously encouraging and reflect the commitment of existing businesses and new investors to Northern Ireland".
"While new jobs attract bigger headlines, it is important not to overlook the importance of investment in R&D and skills, which are crucial to business performance and remaining ahead of the competition," he said.