The £250m City Deal for Derry City and Strabane has taken a major step forward with the signing of its Heads of Terms Agreement.
The deal, which marks the single largest ever government investment in the region, is aimed at bringing a transformative boost to the local economy and could create up to 7,000 new jobs.
Led by Derry City and Strabane District Council, key partners include Ulster University, the Western Health and Social Services Trust, the North West Regional College and C-TRIC research centre.
NI Secretary of State Brandon Lewis and NI Finance Minister Conor Murphy officially signed the Heads of Terms at a virtual event at Derry’s Guildhall in February, hosted by the Mayor and attended by the First Minister, Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister, Michelle O’Neill.
City Deal’s ambitious projects include the delivery of Centres of Innovation and Research at Ulster University in artificial intelligence, data analytics and robotics and automation; the key smart/digital City and Region initiatives; the delivery of The School of Medicine at the Magee campus; the creation of a Health Research Institute (HRI) in the city; and the expansion of C-TRIC at Altnagelvin through THRIVE, a pioneering health-innovation project.
Regeneration projects include mixed use civic, health, leisure and educational facilities as part of a major redevelopment of Strabane town centre; an interactive maritime attraction and enhanced Walled City tourism experience; and major regeneration investment along the riverfront and Queens Quay in Derry, to be closely linked to the expansion of the University.
A multi-skills employment pathways intervention support programme will be interlinked across all these projects.
Council chief executive John Kelpie said of the new milestone: “It has the potential to bring an additional 7,000 jobs by 2032 and lever additional millions in investment over the next decade. We aim to increase our output growth with a GVA (gross value added) of £230m per annum and see an additional £126m in wages.”