The announcement of the establishment of a Boston office for Derry firm GoWalkTalk and a joint partnership between Gartan Technologies from Donegal and US firm Adashi Systems, and the ongoing commitment to strengthen economic development links between Massachusetts and the North West region were some of the early successes of the Ireland North West delegation who travelled to the United States last week as part of a trade visit.
Making the announcement of the new Boston office for GoWalkTalk, the Mayor of Boston, Martin Walsh, speaking at the Golden Bridges Conference, said the investment by the Derry based healthcare management applications and solution’s company was evidence of the ongoing positive partnership arrangement with Massachusetts and the North West region of Ireland.
The Ireland North West delegation, the first of its kind to travel to Massachusetts, was cross border and cross agency led by the Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Mayor Alderman Hilary McClintock and the Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Cllr Terence Slowey, with the Chief Executives of both Councils John Kelpie and , Seamus Neely, Council officials, representatives from Udaras na Gaeltachta, Ulster University, Letterkenny Institute of Technology and the North West Regional College, and 17 local businesses, all travelling to promote the region for investment and build and develop strong links and relationships between both regions.
An inspiring “Gateway for Growth” promotional video and brochure was officially launched during the visit and businesses and officials in Worcester, Springfield and Boston about the unique opportunities that existed for investment in Ireland North West.
John Kelpie, Chief Executive with Derry City and Strabane District Council said: “We told delegates about our unique offering and the fact that Ireland North West, that includes the fourth largest city on the island of Ireland, is a very attractive location for international business partnerships because of its hugely talented skills base, competitive operating costs, advanced telecommunications infrastructure and excellent education and business linkages. A key selling point for us was our unique location and our close connectivity to Europe, our very youthful and talented population, and excellent skills base.
“We were very forthright about our ambitious plans for the future and told them about how we are investing multi-millions of pounds in our road, rail and air infrastructure and connectivity over the next five to 10 years, that will see the expansion of our university, the development of a graduate medical school and major redevelopment of the city sites including investment in housing, office and retail space and leisure service provision. We outlined our strong commitment to building on our existing strengths in terms of our youthful and well educated population, our talent and creativity and skills base to promote ourselves as a city and region that is willing and able to do business.”
Seamus Neely, Chief Executive with Donegal County Council said that the potential US investors were very interested to hear that Ireland North West is ranked in the top 10 economies in the world for ease of doing business and starting a business, and to hear about our strong and diverse SME base and real spirit of entrepreneurship.
“What was very evident from our visit was how the US businesses were interested in our location and our closeness to Europe. We went out there with a very clear message that our unique location is our strength and how we provide the only region that has a land border between the UK and the rest of the EU.”
“Our young, well educated population with their strong worth ethic, and the fact that 31% of our school leavers are educated to degree level and have right skills for employment were very much of interest to the businesses we spoke to.”
Another top selling point for the delegation was the region’s extremely cost competitiveness for prime office rent space compared to Boston or Dublin and the attractive financial support packages and ongoing aftercare support for potential investors that are on offer, in addition to our universities and institutions that are driving our technology and knowledge industries.
John Kelpie said these impressive selling points make Ireland North West a highly attractive and competitive location to do business and he is confident some real linkages and connections were made.
Mayor Alderman Hilary McClintock said the visit was very significant not only in terms of forging links and relationships but in giving the companies that travelled as part of the delegation a real insight into the US market and the opportunities that exist for development and expansion.
Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Cllr Terence Slowey said feedback on what Ireland North West has to offer has been very positive and that people in the US were genuinely very excited about what the region has to offer.
For the 17 companies that travelled as part of the delegation there is a lot of follow up work to do with the connections and links made during the visit. Eleanor Hanna from Donegal based Hanna Hats felt that the trip was very beneficial for her business and said that “we have made some great contacts with high end fashion stores in the US and we are planning to meet up with them in the New Year to pursue these opportunities further”.
While Orla Ward from O’Neill’s, Ireland’s largest sportswear manufacturing company, said the visit was really worthwhile and she is following up on a number of very positive leads with colleges and universities in Boston who are interested in their quality performance playing kits.