The European Union has announced that it will provide almost €9m (£7.98m) in funding for a 30-acre park that will cross the Northern Ireland border.

he project spans 30 acres linking Strabane and Lifford

The Riverine project, which is designed to increase cross-border understanding, will stretch from Strabane, a town in west Tyrone, to Lifford, a town in the neighboring county of Donegal.

The money comes from a €270m pot of funding that was created by the EU in 2014 to support peace and reconciliation projects in both Northern Ireland and the counties in Ireland that sit along the seamless border.

Some €9m will also be provided by Ireland’s rural and community development department, and Northern Ireland’s communities department.

Gina McIntyre, from the EU body that awards the funding, noted that the project would create a “shared space which citizens can enjoy together, irrespective of their background.”

The money will be used to build a pavilion building, outdoor wetland and park space, cross-border pathways, and a pedestrian footbridge that will span the River Foyle. Riverine will host a community heritage engagement programme and a culture and peace activity trail.

A creative arts programme and a shared space connections project are also planned.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Michaela Boyle said that the project could be a “real catalyst for transformation” and said that it would “further strengthen” cross-border links.

Ireland’s Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, said the EU funding “is a major boost for the area”.

Tracy Meharg, Permanent Secretary for the Department for Communities said the project “provides a great opportunity to further our ambitions for a shared, welcoming and confident society that respects diversity.”

MULTI-award winning technology giant Allstate is in negotiations to move into a new purpose-built 850-seat flagship office block in Derry, the Irish News can reveal.

The company, one of Northern Ireland’s first major IT inward investors, is understood to have identified a site at Ebrington, and expects the building to be open within two to three years.

The ambitious move will consolidate its operations in the north west, where it already employs around 800 staff at sites in Derry’s Northland Road and in Strabane.

The existing city office is likely to close under the new arrangement, but the Strabane facility will be retained, and it is thought a significant number of new jobs will be added to its current 2,100-strong payroll.

The company would not reveal exact details of the relocation when contacted by the Irish News given the early stages of its vision.

But a spokesman confirmed that “our real estate team in the US is currently in talks with developers” about creating the new Derry hub.

Allstate is already running at maximum capacity in Derry, and such is the speed of its organic growth that is it having to hire 100 seats at the Catalyst science park building in the city just to alleviate its current capacity problem.

A wholly-owned subsidiary of the Allstate Corporation, the largest publicly owned property and casualty insurance company in the US, Allstate has been a significant part of the business landscape in Northern Ireland for 20 years.

And its latest expansion will be seen as demonstrating confidence in the region’s highly educated workforce, competitive cost base and its research and development capability.

The Derry facility will be a slightly smaller scale version of the new 140,000 sq ft headquarters building which Allstate opened at Mays Meadow in Belfast last June as part of a £30 million investment.

That building, located between Central Station and the River Lagan, was completed in just two years. It spans six floors and includes large sociable working spaces, break-out areas, outdoor terrace and high-tech software development labs.

The project also involved extensive refurbishment of the tow path, adjacent boat marina and a restaurant unit at ground level.

At the time, Allstate NI’s managing director John Healy described the office as “a truly ground-breaking facility – an inspirational working space fit for a world-class technology organisation with a commitment to innovation, imagination and building digital technology of the future.”

The company first dipped its toe into the Northern Ireland market in 1999 as Northbrook Technology before rebranding to Allstate in 2008.

Throughout its history the company has consistently reinvested to become one of the biggest employers of tech talent in the north.

Total financial assistance offered by Invest NI to Allstate over the past 20 years is £27.2 million.

At the opening of its Belfast headquarters last year, Secretary of State Karen Bradley said: “Allstate has been instrumental in showing that, with ambition and vision, a company can grow its workforce tenfold.

“Not only have they created one of Northern Ireland’s first major IT inward investors, but they have tapped into the wealth of talent that the local workforce provides to overseas investors, providing high-quality jobs across Belfast and the north west.

“By continually investing in their staff, and their research and development into IT excellence, the Northern Ireland team are at the forefront of digital innovation. I thank them for the pivotal role they play in developing a Northern Ireland economy fit for the future.”

Significant City Deal and Economic Growth Funding Package confirmed for Derry and Strabane.

The announcement today of a £105M economic package by the UK Government in the Derry City and Strabane City Region has been widely welcomed by City and District partners with the Mayor saying it will be “a significant catalyst for change and economic growth” for the Derry City and Strabane District and the wider North West and expressed his delight that it has been secured during his Mayoral year as a key priority.

The investment package announced comprises a £50M ‘City Deal’ and a £55M ‘Inclusive Future Fund’ and is the culmination of a long period of engagement with Government in relation to advancing priority projects and initiatives within the City and District’s Inclusive Strategic Growth Plan and City Deal proposals.

Reflecting the model recently announced by Government for the Belfast Region City Deal, it is anticipated that the UK Government investment package announced today of £105M for Derry~Londonderry and Strabane will be at least matched by a similar commitment from the NI Executive and will lever further investment from project partners and other third party sources which it is hoped will eventually lead to an overall investment injection of in excess of £300M.

The announcement follows a visit to the City last July when the Chancellor, Philip Hammond met with civic and political leaders to hear of the plans and invited a bid for a City Deal to be formally submitted.

The bid, supported and endorsed by all local and regional political parties and representatives and devised around the key strategic economic projects outlined in the City and District’s Inclusive Strategic Growth Plan 2017-2032.

Led by Derry City and Strabane District Council, the bid was developed in partnership, and with the support of a wide range of local education, business and economic partners – including the Ulster University, the North West Regional College, both the Londonderry and Strabane Chambers of Commerce, the Western Health and Social Care Trust, Visit Derry, City Centre Initiative and the Foyle Port, in consultation with all associated NI Government Departments.

At the core of the bid is education, innovation, job creation and skills development with a key focus being the advancement of the much sought after expansion and growth of the Magee campus of Ulster University.

The investment package announced today, will enable planning and business case development to now proceed on proposals for a significant landmark riverfront university medical education and innovation hub, comprising a graduate entry medical college and centres of innovation, research and teaching excellence in data-driven personalised medicine, cognitive analytics and robotics and automation, eventually delivering over 200 new posts/research assistants at the City’s university and upwards of 2,000 additional students.

The stimulus package will additionally advance the delivery of a range of smart city and digital infrastructure projects and initiatives, further positioning the City and District as a highly digitally enabled location for cutting-edge business development and expansion and inward investment.

The catalytic impact of this could therefore result in the single biggest ever combined and integrated funding injection the City and District, that will enable progress and delivery of other key infrastructure, tourism and regeneration projects contained within the Plan and Bid in both Derry City Centre and Riverfront and in Strabane Town Centre.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor John Boyle said: “This hugely significant announcement today for the Derry and Strabane District will go some considerable way in addressing the long-standing obstacles to economic development that this City Region and its people face. It is good news and is the result of an enormous amount of work and sustained effort invested by Council and the City and Regional partners to develop, deliver and negotiate on the bid.”

Council Chief Executive John Kelpie acknowledged the collaborative approach and the unified vision and commitment demonstrated by politicians, and partner organisations in development of the bid and the advice and support received regionally and nationally in securing such a positive outcome.

Enthusiastic about the opportunity presented by today’s announcement he commented: “This City and District has seen much progress in recent years economically, physically and socially. It has however significant remaining challenges in overcoming an infrastructure deficit and a legacy of underinvestment both of which have been such inhibitors to sustainable economic growth.

“This funding package, if directed at the key agreed strategic growth projects and if used to lever significant further public and private sector investment, will deliver a new era of unprecedented growth and development for the City and Region providing tangible benefits for all of our citizens and a promising future for our children and young people.”

Other City Deal Project partners reacted equally positively with the Vice Chancellor of Ulster University, Professor Paddy Nixon said, “This investment will now see the rapid development of plans to grow and enhance facilities and student numbers at the Magee Campus including the Graduate Entry Medical School.”

Brian McGrath, President of Londonderry Chamber of Commerce said: “This funding is hugely welcome and provides a solid platform upon which to grow and enhance the competitiveness of the City and Region and attract further significant exciting new companies, business prospects and investment.”

Council Chief Executive, John Kelpie concluded:  “The next steps will now be for everyone to continue to work together to develop the necessary detailed business plans and advance the projects through planning and design. We will do this by using this unprecedented opportunity to promote the future of this City and District as a location of choice for all in terms of business, lifestyle and ambition.”

A high-level delegation of senior UK diplomats visited Londonderry in Feb as part of a two day visit to gain a wider understanding of the political structures, strengths, and unique offer of Northern Ireland. The visit was an opportunity to engage local interests and discuss how the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with other partners, is delivering support internationally for all parts of the UK, including Northern Ireland. During their visit, the group met with the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Councillor John Boyle and senior officers of council where they were given an overview of the council’s Strategic Inclusive Growth Plan and the work the council is doing to secure national growth in the city region. Mayor John Boyle said the meeting was very positive in identifying opportunities the Foreign and Commonwealth Office can help to represent the city and district’s interests abroad and to assist in helping the city region achieve its ambition.

Visting Heads of Mission Discuss Derry City and Strabane Growth Plans

He said it was an excellent opportunity for the council and its stakeholders to engage directly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to discuss common interests in terms of business, trade and investment and education opportunities. The delegation also met with representatives from Invest NI before they travelled to Seagate Technology and the Ulster University. The delegation participated in a walking tour of the Historic City Walls before sampling a range of the finest local food and drink produce a food and drink tasting event at the Bishop’s Gate Hotel that was hosted by Invest NI, before an evening reception hosted by the Mayor. Speaking after the visit the Mayor extended his thanks to the delegation saying it was hugely significant in forging links with the FCO and in sharing information that will help the region with its current business and education challenges.

He said: “This visit by the UK senior diplomats was a very important visit for the city and wider region. It was a great opportunity for us to showcase our city and the really positive work we are doing through our Strategic Growth Plan to attract investment, invest in research and education and improve our health and wellbeing. We were able to show the benefits of strategic partnership working between council, the Ulster University and Seagate and welcome the commitment of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in representing the interests of Northern Ireland Internationally.”

Derry-based transport firm, Airporter, has announced a £1 million investment in a new, purpose-built facility and hub as the company expands. The company’s new 14,000 sq. ft. hub on a 2.5 acre site, will regenerate the former headquarters of the old Lough Swilly Bus Company in Springtown Industrial Estate.

The investment is the result of a six-month development plan, kick-started by a doubling of passengers over recent years. The hub includes on site servicing, fuelling and bus washing, with a range of new driver training and rest facilities, while Airporter’s current facility off Culmore Road will continue to be used for passenger pick-ups and drop offs.

Founded in 1996, Airporter now runs 30 journeys a day to Belfast International and Belfast City Airport from the North West, carrying around 155,000 passengers per year. Since 2014, employee numbers have trebled, with 30 drivers and 15 buses on the road every day. The company has grown from just two drivers and two vehicles, carrying 5,000 passengers in its first year in business to a fleet of 21 vehicles. Previously, Airporter invested heavily in digital technology which allows passengers to book tickets 24 hours a day and bookings are now almost 100 per cent booked online. The announcement comes amidst a backdrop of concerns around the potential risks of Brexit and the lack of investment in infrastructure in the North West, but there has also been reason for optimism after work on the A6 between Dungiven and Derry began, which should see travel time reduced once complete.

Jennifer McKeever, Director of Airporter said: “This investment represents a real statement of intent for us at Airporter. Our expansion reflects our success and the growth in the number of passengers so far. We now have a purpose-built facility fitted out to provide our team with a working environment which reflects the volume of business we do. This shows that as a company we’re always looking towards the future, we’re always looking to do better. “It’s also entirely necessary because demand keeps growing and that’s only going to continue. Last year was a record year for tourism in Northern Ireland and more and more people are coming to explore the North West.”

For further Information https://www.derryjournal.com/news/airporter-in-1m-move-to-former-swilly-base-1-8661866

Ryanair, Europe’s No.1 airline, today launched its new City of Derry Airport route to Edinburgh in October by launching a £9.99 winter sale.

The new route to Edinburgh commenced in October, with a five-time weekly service, as part of Ryanair’s winter 2018 schedule, which also includes a route to Liverpool.

For further Information  https://corporate.ryanair.com/news/ryanair-celebrates-new-city-of-derry-airport-route-to-edinburgh-with-9-99-sale/

Loganair’s new service between City of Derry Airport and Glasgow International is now underway, with the airline reporting strong sales from both business and leisure travellers.

The new route, which operates five times a week between the two airports, has also acted as a catalyst for in-bound tourism to Derry-Londonderry and the region.

Mayor of Derry and Strabane District Council, John Boyle, formally welcomed Loganair’s Commercial Director Kay Ryan to the airport after the arrival of the inaugural flight in March.

Ms Ryan said: “The cities and their populations share very close connections, and this is being reflected via ticket sales. Whether it is family ties or football teams, business or leisure, this is a popular link in both the West of Scotland and Derry.”

She added: “We’re also pleased to be able to offer onward connections through Glasgow with our large network of airline partnerships including Emirates, KLM, Air France and Thomas Cook, allowing for global travel, often on one ticket.”

 

On September 10th Derry City and Strabane District Council hosted a high level Derry~Londonderry City Region Economic Summit focusing on the work being done to develop business, education and investment links between Derry and London.

The Derry~Londonderry City Region Economic Summit hosted by the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr John Boyle, and attended by the Lord Mayor of the City of London Alderman Charles Bowman along with senior representatives from the City of London Corporation and The Honourable Irish Society.

The Summit took place at a number of venues across the city and involved stakeholders from the business, education, investment and industry sectors discussing the positive collaborative work being done with the City of London to promote Derry~Londonderry as a great place to do business.

Organised by Derry City and Strabane District Council, the Derry~Londonderry City Region Economic Summit had been organised following a series of engagements and visits between the two cities over the past number of months.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr John Boyle said purpose of the Economic Summit is to deliver the key objectives set out in the Strategic Growth Plan and the opportunities that exist to build and deepen regional engagement between the City of London and Derry City and Strabane District Council.

He said: “Just last month I welcomed senior representatives from the City of London and The Honourable Irish Society where they received an update on the city’s bid for a City Deal and the work being done by the Council and its partners to further develop the existing strong links between Derry and the City London.

“This high level Economic Summit will look at the benefits of doing business in the North West and the opportunities that exist in the City of London for businesses in the North West. The event will highlight the City Region’s key strength’s focussing on the work that is being done through our Education and Skills Delivery Partnership. A key element of the Summit will be the focus on existing industry and the important role they play to the economic growth and productivity to the Northern Ireland and wider UK economy and how we can look at new ways of collaborating and working creatively with the City of London,” he said,

Mayor Boyle added that the common synergy and connectivity between Derry~Londonderry and the City of London is huge significant.

“The City of London is a global leader in areas such as the Financial Services sector. My hope is that recent investments such as that being made by Fintru and the creation of 305 new jobs is a shining example of the opportunities that exist in developing a sustainable relationship with the City of London.

We have a shared history and heritage that can be leveraged into something stronger. Our strong economic history dates back over 400 years to the Plantation of Ulster and in recent years the two cities have worked closely to promote our connectivity and linkages. We intend to build on this so we can improve our economic relationship by working closely with businesses, investors and education providers for the mutual benefit of both cities.”

For further Information http://www.derrystrabane.com/Council/News/High-level-City-Region-Economic-Summit-to-forge-li

A high-level inward investment team from the State of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia visited Derry, Strabane and Inishowen in October as part of a visit to Northern Ireland.

During their visit to the North West the group met with the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council John Boyle, and visited a number of local businesses, including E&I Engineering in Burnfoot.

They also spent some time at the North West Regional College and the Ulster University Magee campuses to see at first hand the region’s entrepreneurship and innovation and skilled workforce.

The delegation also attended a business engagement lunch with the Chamber of Commerce and met with international investors and local business representatives who are interested in doing business in the Pennsylvania and Philadelphia areas, as well as local companies such as Fleming Agri and Marblehill, who already export to the US.

The visit was just weeks ahead of a forthcoming trade mission to Boston/Philadelphia, which will saw companies from Derry, Strabane and Donegal travelling to the US along with representatives from Derry City and Strabane District Council, Donegal County Council, the Local Enterprise Office, North West Regional College and LYIT.

Among the representatives who visited the city this week from the State of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia were Mr David Briel (Executive Director, Centre for Direct Investment, Pennsylvania); Mr Richard Kilner (Office of International Business Development, Center for Direct Investment, Pennsylvania); Mrs Sylvie Gallier Howard (First Deputy Commerce Director, Department of Commerce, City of Philadelphia) and Mr Vaughn Ross (Deputy Chief of Staff to the Mayor of Philadelphia).

Mayor Boyle said: “They were very impressed with our offering and how well placed we are in terms of offering cost competitive business opportunities along with high level digital connectivity and a young and well educated workforce.

“They were very keen to further explore the existing trade and export relationships that exist with companies from the North West region and Philadelphia, as well as the wider State of Pennsylvania. We are starting to see the benefits of this joined up and positive approach to establishing strong economic development links and initiatives between the US and the North West region. Our relationship is very strong and there is a real eagerness to develop our relationship further.”

For further Information  http://www.derrydaily.net/2018/10/23/mayor-welcomes-high-level-us-delegation-to-north-west/

During trade missions to Philadelphia and Boston 12th – 16th  November potential American investors were told that the North West is perfectly placed for an ‘investment hub for business and global companies seeking to establish a gateway to both the UK and EU markets’.

A number of focused engagements with industry specialists, FDI executives and venture capitalists took place throughout the week in both Philadelphia and Boston as part of the Trade and Investment mission led jointly by Donegal County Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council, presenting the compelling investment proposition that the Northwest City Region has to offer.

Potential investors heard from leading global company DuPont, which has a longstanding commitment to the region, taking advantage of the unique combination of benefits that the Northwest region has to offer including an accessible, connected and business friendly gateway region with a compelling vision for greater international impact.

Investors learned that companies and businesses are attracted by a talented and educated workforce, the value balance, the superb quality of life and the supportive business environment.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council John Boyle believes that: “The strength of the region is underpinned by the strong collaborative approach which sees industry, government at both central and local level, and further and higher education institutions from both sides of the border working together to fuel further economic growth and prosperity. This is something that investor’s value greatly in terms of facilitating ease of access to supports in the region.”

Local businesses from a range of sectors across both Council areas also participated in the mission meeting with potential clients and business partners with a view to increasing sales and expanding their businesses.

Derry based Bridie Mullin Irish Linen Ltd. participated in the mission and brought her eponymous label of handcrafted quality Irish line to Boston in an effort to tap into the US market.

Bridie explains that the trade visit was an opportunity to build on her own research, and to visit stores and meet with potential clients gaining a deeper understanding of what exactly the customer is looking for. It also allowed her to get an insight into the potential costs associated with exporting and logistics assisting in finalising price points for trading.

The trade and investment mission also involved engagement with educational institutions with a memorandum of understanding being signed by the North West Regional College and Philadelphia Community College and the State of Pennsylvania during the mission that sees the consolidation of relationships developed over the last two years.

The week also saw the announcement by both Councils of an exciting research project with Harvard Graduate School of Design, exploring how the cross-border northwest city region can be shaped in light of the economic, political and social realities of Brexit. This project is being led by Assistant Professor Gareth Doherty in Harvard GSD, who is originally from Donegal.

Reaching out to the diaspora was also a key objective of the mission and this manifested in events in both Philadelphia and Boston, where members of the diaspora from across the region attended and shared with the delegation the opportunities and challenges faced by the diaspora and their commitment to continue to engage in a way that is meaningful and mutually beneficial.

The Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council also had the honour of accepting on behalf of Donegal Hospice a cheque of $14,000 raised by the Donegal community in Philadelphia. Speaking after the trip, Chief Executive of Donegal County Council, Seamus Neely, said: “This Trade and Investment Mission is part of the ongoing positive work being done by both Councils. We are committed to continuing with the positive work we are doing to drive forward our economy and to maximise the opportunities we have as a cross border gateway to both the UK and EU markets.

“We have longstanding connections with Philadelphia and Massachusetts and these connections transcend economic, cultural and political linkages. The Golden Bridges conference has provided the Northwest region with an important platform in the Massachusetts region allowing us to reach out, connect with and form meaningful relationships and collaborations with stakeholders in various sectors that have been instrumental in progressing growth and prosperity in the region.”

Reflecting on the visit, Chief Executive of Derry City and Strabane District Council, John Kelpie, said: “It takes time to make connections, develop relationships and build trust. Our ongoing positive engagement with Massachusetts has to date resulted in a number of exciting developments including the investment and success stories around One Source Virtual and Metaverse. “Results such as these are part of our key objectives in terms of strengthening the profile of the City Region as outlined in our Strategic Growth Plan and are evidence that our direct approach of travelling to the US, making those connections and building rapport, really works.”