Ssssh! Too few jobs to mention

By Gemma Burns

THE number of new jobs created in West Belfast by international investors in the past three years is so tiny that Invest NI says it’s unable to release the figures.
New stats released by the jobs body show that in East Belfast there were 1,408 new jobs created between 2011 and 2014, 1,020 in South Belfast for the same period and 69 jobs in North Belfast.
But the number for West Belfast is so low that Invest NI won’t release the exact figure because it would almost certainly identify the company or companies. Specific inform-ation can’t be provided if it refers to fewer than five companies. West Belfast is the only part of the city that falls into that category.
West Belfast has one of the highest rates of unemployment in the north and Invest NI continues to come under fire for its poor performance in turning that around.
As the regional business development agency, Invest NI’s role is to grow the local economy. They do this by helping new and existing businesses to compete internationally and by attracting new investment to the north.
The latest figures come only two weeks after the Andersonstown News revealed that just over £7,000 has been offered to West Belfast business start-ups by Invest NI over the past year, compared to over £1million in the south of the city.
A spokeswoman for Invest NI defended the agency’s record in the West of the city.
“Invest NI works hard to market Northern Ireland as an investment location and does not direct investment to specific regions,” she said.
“We have already clarified repeatedly that the agency does not promote jobs in a specific area but works hard to bring investment and jobs to Northern Ireland. It is the investor, and the investor alone, who decides where to locate their project and Invest NI funding follows that project.
“This approach is without doubt delivering results for Northern Ireland. Support for projects is demand-led and can only be considered where a company has brought forward a viable business plan.
“It is also important to recognise that investors typically draw their workforce from wider than their immediate area.”

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