Minister sets Invest NI new job creation targets after agency enjoys record-breaking year - The Irish News
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Minister sets Invest NI new job creation targets after agency enjoys record-breaking year

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton (centre) with Invest NI chairman Mark Ennis (left) and chief executive Alastair Hamilton
Gary McDonald Business Editor

TWO thirds of all new jobs being created in Northern Ireland in the next year will be 'home grown' under targets set by wealth creation body Invest NI.

The government agency promoted 5,550 new jobs across the region during 2015/16, easily eclipsing its target of 4,000.

That in turn secured £341 million of employment-related investment into the economy against a target of £220 million.

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton has now revealed an interim set of targets agreed for Invest NI up to March 2017 which will include supporting businesses with projects that will promote 4,000 to 6,000 new jobs in the next year of which between 2,600 and 3,200 should be from indigenous growth.

The minister's tenure will include overseeing the introduction of the north's new 12.5 per cent corporation tax rate from April 2018, when he expects to see a marked uplift in jobs created through foreign direct investment and welcome new international investors.

For now he believes Invest NI is playing a positive role in delivering for the Northern Ireland economy.

"I congratulate the agency for once again exceeding its targets," he said.

“This is a positive out-turn when you consider that responsibility for local business starts has transferred to the new Council structures and Invest NI is no longer able to support job creation as part of large company expansions.

“Investment in research and development, and wider innovation, is also crucial to meeting the ever changing needs of the customer. Invest NI support helped secure £70m of investment in research and development in 2015-2016, surpassing the target by 55 per cent.

"And these figures mean that, over the five-year period of the last Programme for Government, Invest NI helped businesses promote nearly 42,500 new jobs, a 39 per cent increase on the previous five years, and 70 per cent over the original Executive target of 25,000 new jobs.

"It is also encouraging that, across the five years, 64 per cent of jobs and 60 per cent of total investment has been outside Belfast.”

As well as targets set for new job creation in the incoming year, the agency will also be tasked with encouraging increased investment in skills, R&D and wider innovation to ensure businesses remain competitive in a global market and identify and exploit opportunities to grow sales to external markets.

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