Successful US convention celebrates increased attention on North West

26 October 2015 
Worcester Chamber of Commerce - Boston TripThe Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Elisha McCallion has described the recent trip to the Golden Bridges Conference in Boston as an extremely significant visit which has further strengthened business relations with the US, building on the recent commitments of major investors One Source Virtual and Metaverse Mod Squad.

A cross-border delegation including Mayor McCallion, the Mayor of Donegal, Councillor Ciaran Brógan, and the Derry-Strabane and Donegal Council Chief Executives, John Kelpie and Seamus Neely, were accompanied on the trip to Boston by representatives of the Ulster University and Letterkenny Institute of Technolog. During the trip, the delegation launched the new NW Ireland Investment Prospectus which promotes the region with a view to generating inward investment.

A major highlight of the conference was the presentation of a special recognition award for US Company One Source Virtual, who were praised for their recent investment in the city, by bringing 289 jobs and an estimated £12million annual contribution to the local economy.

Mayor with Fionnuala Quinlan Irish Consul General - Boston TripDuring the visit, the delegation met with key partners involved in tourism development, sport, culture, education and the digital economy.
On her return at the weekend, Mayor McCallion said: “We enjoyed some extremely positive engagements during our visit to Boston and I was delighted to meet with so many significant figures in the spheres of politics, business and education. It was fantastic to hear so many influential business leaders discussing the merits of doing business here in the North West.
“The conference offered the perfect opportunity to reaffirm the North West’s commitment to providing our international investors with the ideal platform to do business in terms of educations, skills, infrastructure and lifestyle.”

During the visit representatives of both Derry and Donegal introduced the NW Ireland Investment Prospectus to their US counterparts, stressing the importance of the new Cross-Border Gateway for Business. This partnership approach aims to strategically target international investors based on a strengthened offering combining the assets of both sides of the border.


US Convention in North WestA wide range of collaborative projects were discussed throughout the trip, including the development of educational exchanges, regeneration initiatives and key foreign direct investment plans.




Derry voted best Hallowe’en destination in the world!

19th October 15

Halloween Derry LondonderryA leading US publication – USA Today has named Derry as the Best Hallowe’en destination in the world, outdoing the competition from locations such as Transylvania, Sleepy Hollow and Salem, Massachusetts.

When it comes to celebrating the most haunted night of the year, Derry scooped the majority of online votes.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Elisha McCallion, said the announcement would significantly boost the city’s reputation as a top Hallowe’en visitor experience.

“The event is always a huge visitor attraction in terms of drawing people from all over the world to the city, and it’s a major contributor to the local economy. Topping the poll is an extra endorsement from the public for the fantastic programme of events which takes over the city each year, and the transformation to Scary Derry.

Derry secures Runner-Up position in Foodie Town Competition!

13th October

Foodie DerryDerry has been announced as one of Ireland’s leading Foodie Towns in a prestigious national competition organised by the Restaurants Association of Ireland.

In a close fought battle for the title of Foodie Town of Ireland, the city was marginally beaten by the Burren, who took the top spot on the list of ten shortlisted food destinations. The judges introduced a special runners up category recognising Derry’s performance and the closeness of the final decision.

Derry emerged second out of ten of the country’s best known food tourism hotspots and secured a top position on the fine food map; with a total of 30 towns applying for the coveted title this year.

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Elisha McCallion, said she was delighted that the city had been among the front runners to win the coveted title. “I think we put in a fantastic effort and to be placed second is a great endorsement of Derry as an exciting new food tourism destination and one that will really raise the city’s profile in terms of the quality of our restaurants and our local produce.

The outcome of the competition was decided by both an online public vote and the Restaurants Association judges, both having equal weighting in the final decision.

Following the awards the Restaurants Association paid tribute to the local campaign tipping the city as a big contender for next year’s awards, and confirmed that Derry had gained the biggest number of public votes in the competition.

£500,000 DSD Investment for Strabane Welcomed

25th Sept 15

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council has welcomed over £500,000 investment from the Department for Social Development, for sport, leisure and local facilities for the Strabane area.

Mayor Cllr Elisha McCallion detailed the series of projects which the DSD investment has enabled including:

A new multi-use recreation area at Fountain Street/Patrician Villas, has had an investment of £272,000. The development includes a 3G synthetic pitch, floodlighting, play area with wooden equipment including sculptures with slides, ramps and tunnels, and a seating area with picnic tables.

The refurbishment of 4 new female changing rooms, treatment and meeting rooms at Strabane Sigersons GAA, with an investment of £216,393.

In addition, the steps leading from Springhill Park to Fountain Street will undergo refurbishment and other planned environmental improvements within local estates in the Strabane Neighbourhood Renewal area, will have a total investment of £63,000. This work has been undertaken by the NI Housing Executive.

Mayor McCallion added: “This is another example of successful partnership working, with Council and the Department for Social Development working closely with local community groups to deliver quality facilities that will help promote healthier lifestyles and improve the quality of life for those living in the Strabane Neighbourhood Renewal Area. I would like to congratulate everyone involved in developing these projects that will enhance and improve the area making it more attractive, functional and accessible.”

Council announces further commitment to capital investment

02 September 2015 

A number of key projects and programmes across the Derry City and Strabane District are set to benefit from a significant funding boost as announced at a meeting of the Council’s Governance and Strategic Planning Committee, subject to ratification by Full Council.

The additional investment builds on recent capital spending of over £44m for a range of projects and brings Council’s total capital investment programme to £64.416m, of which 50% has been secured from external sources.

The news is particularly welcome following the considerable cuts to grants and funding streams announced by central government in recent months, which have the potential to seriously impact on regeneration and investment in the area.

Speaking after the announcement Chief Executive of Derry City and Strabane District Council, John Kelpie reaffirmed that Council’s key focus remains on economic, social and environmental regeneration with specific emphasis on an ambitious capital investment programme.

“Today’s announcement brings us a step closer to the realisation of many projects, and we remain committed to securing the additional resources needed to strengthen and transform Derry and Strabane. I would now urge central government to step up and deliver on their commitments to the region.”

“The successful delivery of funding to support these key capital projects and programmes demonstrates our determination to meet our promises and drive the campaign to improve the prospects and quality of life of all our citizens.”

In recent months it’s estimated that the North West region has lost up to £6.2m in funding relating to the rates support grant, the transferring of functions, the disproportionate liability from a number of transferring assets, and the lack of capital funds to go along with DSD functions – all vital in allowing the Council to bring forward capital projects.

Mr Kelpie stressed that while significant amounts of capital investment have been achieved to date, Council will continue to exert pressure on central government to reduce budgetary cuts and commit further investment with a view to promoting sustainable growth within the region.

More than 250 small and medium businesses (SMEs ) across the Derry City and Strabane District Council area have benefited from the Government’s Broadband Connection voucher scheme.
The scheme, which helps SMEs get connected to superfast broadband had a surge in demand in recent months.

Head of Business with Derry City and Strabane District Council, Kevin O’Connor explained how £40m was made available across the UK for the scheme and vouchers were issued on a first come first served basis. Funds were not been ring-fenced for individual cities so all eligible businesses across the Derry and Strabane area were encouraged to apply before the funds were exhausted.

He explained: “The scheme allows businesses to apply for grants of up to £3,000 each to cover the costs of installing faster and better broadband. The scheme has helped a huge variety of businesses to date, including Walled City Brewery, Nuprint Technology, St. Elmos Veterinary Clinic, Claritas Software and Visit Derry.

He said small businesses who choose to sign up to avail of faster connection broadband can benefit from increased security through fast secure backup of data, increased productivity and improved customer service through faster upload and download speeds and growing and accessing new markets through better communication with customers and suppliers.

“This is a fantastic offer for local businesses and we are delighted with the interest shown so far. We will be actively encouraging more local businesses to sign up and not miss out on this fantastic offer,” he added.

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said:“Our offer to small businesses has been a tremendous success and is proving incredibly popular. More than 40,000 businesses – including more than 257 from Derry~Londonderry, have already taken up our offer which is aimed at boosting both their broadband speeds as well as their bottom line.

Culture Tech 2015 Highlights

City Arcade

“For 2015 we’re turning Millennium Forum into a huge outdoor games arcade, ” Mark Nagurski says, “where people can play the latest games on the market including the rather well-know and favourite among kids young and old MineCraft. This will provide fun and activity for all the family including costumes, youtubers and video games fun.

Maker City

The biggest new addition to this year’s programme, Maker City is a 2-day celebration of innovation and having fun with technology. Expect dozens of interactive technology exhibits, free workshops, science shows, food, live music, video games, drones, robots, racecars and lots of crazy things that we can’t even describe.

Digital Derry

The festival is also about showcasing Derry as a great place to do business. Previously in charge of delivering the Digital Derry project, which supports and promotes the city and region as a bastion of innovative digital technology, Mark Nagurski is well placed to see the advantages this brings to the city.

“Companies don’t just pick places to do business on price per square foot,” he says. “They’re looking for talent and quality of life and that’s what we are promoting through the festival.”

One great trailblazing festival in Derry each September! For a full 2015 programme click here 

Inspiring The Next Generation

One important aim is to bring children into the world of technology, developing their skills and introducing them to the possibilities of working in the industry. Over 8,000 kids went through that process last year at CultureTECH. In 2015 it will be over 15,000.

Minister Jonathan Bell announces 289 new jobs for Londonderry

 02 July 2015

Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister, Jonathan Bell today announced that Texas-based OneSource Virtual (OneSource) is to set up an HR Outsourcing Centre in Londonderry, which will create 289 new jobs by 2017.

OneSource is a Business Process as a Service (BPaaS) provider. Its HR outsourcing services include payroll administration, benefits administration and application management services.

Jonathan Bell said: “This is a major project for Londonderry, which will see 289 new jobs in place by 31 December 2017.

“OneSource has chosen to create its first European operation in Londonderry, with the centre opening in September. The company undertook a rigorous evaluation of a number of locations looking at the availability of a skilled workforce, local higher education provision, quality of life and cost of living, as well as the financial business case. It was down to two locations and, with the support of Invest NI, Londonderry was chosen, securing this project for Northern Ireland.

“The new jobs will be across a range of roles including deployment, application management services, and payroll services, with most of the employees having the potential to earn £36,000 per annum. When the project is fully operational, it will contribute nearly £12million of salaries to the economy annually.

“The new centre will service both existing OneSource clients in the US and new clients based in Europe as part of its expansion plans. This will offer staff an exciting and creative opportunity to provide innovative, cloud-based HR solutions to international firms.

“This is the second new investor for the city announced in a matter of weeks, which reflects our strong commitment to working with our partners in the North West to deliver projects that will provide economic benefit, not only to the immediate area, but also to the whole of Northern Ireland.”

OneSource Virtual co-founder and CEO Brian Williams expressed his excitement about the company’s first European venture. He said: “OneSource employees are intelligent problem solvers and creative thinkers who aspire to build long-term careers in a high performing, culture-focused company. We will be looking for technology graduates with three to five years’ experience who possess strong verbal skills and thrive in a fast-paced environment as well as experienced UK payroll professionals. With the support of Invest NI, through its Skills Growth Programme, we will be providing the staff with intensive training and support throughout their career.

“We have been very impressed by the opportunities we see in Londonderry and are looking forward to working closely with the business community and local colleges and universities to help develop our centre.”

26 June 2015

The North West Region Cross Border Group (NWRCBG) was delighted to have an opportunity to showcase the excellent work carried out by their Partner Councils and organisations at a special EU Celebration and Funding event held in Derry today.

Funded by the European Union’s INTERREG IVA Programme, the event celebrated the successful delivery of projects led by NWRCBG, worth an investment value of €20million.  Principal speakers at the event included Mark Durkan MP, Minister Sean Sherlock TD and Lorraine McCourt, SEUPB.

Minister Sherlock, who has special responsibility for North South Co-operation at the Department of Foreign Affairs, acknowledged the valuable work carried out by the North West Region Cross Border Group and said that the achievements being celebrated “are the culmination of an extended period of collaboration and co-operation by many different groupings based here in the North West and demonstrate the positive outcomes that can be generated by communities working together for the common good”. He observed that “Many lessons have been learned and ultimately a range of meaningful projects have been delivered. These projects will, in a variety of ways, enhance the infrastructure and quality of life of those living in the North West.”

Minister Sherlock also acknowledged the financial contribution and commitment from both governments to the INTERREG IVA Programme.

Lorraine Mc Court, SEUPB, commended NWRCBG Members and staff for their professionalism in delivering such a wide range of projects so successfully.  She also acknowledged the importance of EU funding such as the INTERREG programme in aiming to create a more prosperous cross-border region, a core objective of the Programme.

Mark Durkan MP congratulated the Councils of the North West Region Cross Border Group for their continued commitment to work together to ‘strengthen and develop the regional economy through collaboration.’  He added that he hoped the important relationships and partnerships that have been developed through this work will be maintained and strengthened through times ahead.

Project Partners had the opportunity to showcase the excellent work carried out by the Councils and partner organisations.  Paul Canning, Chair of the NWRCBG, said that “the work of all these project teams must be commended.   The projects were all delivered within the time frame of the programme, with targets being met and often exceeded and it is all of us as residents of this region who will see the benefits in years to come.

The afternoon session provided an opportunity for guests to hear about the new EU funding programmes and opportunities for 2014-2020.   Declan Mc Garrigle and Lorraine Mc Court from the Special EU Programmes Body, outlined the new INTERREG V and PEACE IV Programmes, along with other transnational/interregional programmes.  Richard Osterhus, Derry City and Strabane District Council presented on Horizon 2020, Creative Europe and other funding opportunities.

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council closed the afternoon event and stressed to those in attendance that “it is vitally important that we continue to work collaboratively to secure further funding for our Region.   As we can see here today, a tremendous amount of work has already been carried out but there is still an enormous task ahead of us.”  She acknowledged the work of the NWRCBG Councillors and staff in delivering such important economic and social benefits to our region.

The North West Regional College has been a hive of activity this week as local companies turned out in force to hear the benefits of digital technology for their business at the Digital Derry Conference.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Elisha McCallion, opened the two day event, which welcomed both start up and established businesses from across N. Ireland. The conference was a highlight of Council’s Growing the Digital Economy Programme, part-funded by Invest NI through the European Regional Development Fund under the Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland, and delivered in partnership with CultureTech and NORIBIC.

According to Mayor McCallion the conference was another step towards establishing the city’s reputation as one of the best digital hubs in the world to do business.

“I am delighted that the Digital Derry Conference has been such a success for the city, drawing an array of high profile industry speakers from international companies who are becoming increasingly aware of the region’s digital offering.

“Testament to this is the major announcement yesterday that the city saw off competition from Dublin, Belfast and Berlin to attract 100 new jobs with social media company Metaverse Mod Squad. I think businesses here are becoming more conscious of establishing a strong digital profile and it’s fantastic that we are able to offer this level of support to assist them in boosting their capabilities.
“With a first rate infrastructure, a young dynamic workforce, and a wealth of creative talent, we have the winning combination for any investor.”

Speaking after the announcement Vice President of Metaverse, Rich Weil, who was also one of the key speakers at the conference, said: “Metaverse Mod Squad felt the vibe in Derry matched the company’s culture, it’s tech orientated, communicative, there is a strong educational base and a flexible mentality.
“We deal with a lot of different clients so we need a flexible workforce. As a company we have to be adaptive and we need to learn our clients’ business to we rely on a workforce that are eager to learn.”
During the conference Rich also shared some of his experiences in expanding businesses into different cultural markets.

Other high profile speakers on Tuesday included Paul Hamill, founder of Inflyte, who urged local companies to think big in terms of business and establishing a foothold in the global market. And Andrew Jordan, Founder of VouchedFOR, reminded local entrepreneurs that with today’s technology local companies can now operate successfully from anywhere in the world.

Any business interested in accessing support to take their ideas to the next level can find out more about the Growing the Digital Economy Programme