SDLP Economy Spokesperson Sinéad McLaughlin has said the Northern Ireland Investment Summit has showed the need to grasp the economic opportunities available.
Ms McLaughlin was speaking after attending the summit on Wednesday.
Foyle MLA Ms McLaughlin said:
“This investment summit was a fantastic opportunity to welcome businesses from all over the world to the North and showcase what we can offer to those interested in investing here. There was a real positivity in the room and it was inspiring to hear directly from businesses leaders, including local entrepreneurs, about the potential that exists. The Windsor Framework and dual market access have given us an advantage that we cannot afford to waste and that was the resounding message from those attending today’s summit.
“We have a supremely talented workforce and this has been cited time and time again by those opening companies here and as this summit and the recent visit by President Biden showed, we have huge potential to attract more investment in future. Continuing to invest in education, skills and infrastructure will be key to securing that funding.
“However, we cannot ignore that the lack of a functioning Executive and Assembly at Stormont makes it much more difficult to sell this place and its people. Many businesses will think twice about investing somewhere without any political leadership or direction. We need to look to the future and focus on building an inclusive and cohesive community, rather than operating with one hand tied behind our backs.
“I welcome the positive announcements connected to the summit, including 1,000 jobs being created by EY in both Belfast and through a new hub in the north west. Prior to the summit I contacted the Department of Business and Trade asking them to use this summit to look specifically at the north west, our cross-border region and other parts of the North that have been continually deprived of investment. I also welcome Minister Kemi Badenoch’s acknowledgement of the need to invest in the north west, but I still believe that more could have been done to highlight areas that have been continually overlooked.
“It’s clear from this summit that the North has a growing reputation as an attractive place for businesses. To make the most of the opportunities and potential that were discussed today, we need an Executive and Assembly up and running to send a clear message that we are open for business and the SDLP will keep fighting to ensure that communities across the North benefit as a result.”