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Inward Investment: East Belfast

Volume 689: debated on Monday 5 February 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What proposals they have to bring investment to East Belfast. [HL1385]

The Government, through Invest NI, promote Northern Ireland as an attractive and viable location for foreign direct investment. They also work to stimulate the development and growth of local businesses and entrepreneurial activity. Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) works to secure investment in tourism.

Invest NI works closely with local stakeholders to encourage them to develop regional propositions to maximise the attractiveness of their area for potential investors.

This strategy has resulted in around £18.8 million of assistance being offered towards total planned inward investment of £55.8 million in the East Belfast constituency area in the four years to March 2006. Through its accelerating entrepreneurship strategy, Invest NI has also assisted the creation of just under 350 new enterprises which have the potential to generate significant additional turnover in local businesses.

In the period 1 April 2002 to 31 March 2006, Invest NI organised 580 inward visits by potential investor companies to Northern Ireland, of which 110 were to East Belfast.

DETI’s £23.5 million investment to date in the establishment of a science park at Queen's Island has provided 80,000 square feet of high-quality workspace designed to attract innovation-led, high-growth, knowledge-based businesses. The Government have also recently approved a proposal to build a further 210,000 square feet of accommodation at the site, with additional funding of £4.3 million being made available for the first phase build of 60,000 square feet.

The Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) is the flagship tenant for the Science Park, with Invest NI offering £8.3 million assistance towards a total investment of £37.8 million, representing the single largest investment in leading-edge research and development infrastructure to establish in NI.

As a key signature project within the Northern Ireland Tourist Board's strategic framework for action 2004-07, the Titanic and Maritime Heritage project has the potential to make a significant impact on Northern Ireland tourism, providing further potential social and economic benefits for the local population, including new employment opportunities.

This project has been shortlisted for further consideration by the Big Lottery Fund. The Government, acting through NITB and DETI, along with Titanic Quarter Limited (TQL), are now progressing the lottery application to the second stage due for submission by end May 2007, and working to identify potential additional funding sources.

NITB has already committed funding of £825,000 for other aspects of the Titanic bid including the development of Thompson Dock and Pump House and also the world's first interactive multimedia digital trail, launched by NITB and Belfast City Council in August 2006. Invest NI has also offered £136,000 of assistance to hotels within the East Belfast area to help them develop their capability in order to strengthen the tourism product on offer within the area.

IKEA’s planned opening of a new store in East Belfast also represents a major investment proposal for this part of the city, bringing significant social and economic benefits to the area, with up to 500 new jobs expected to be created.