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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.”

Seagate unveils £57m investment plans and 25 new jobs for Derry plant

LEADING electronics manufacturer Seagate Technology has announced a £57.4 million investment in its Springtown plant.

The company, which provides data storage solutions for companies across the world including read-write heads for hard disk drives, has announced major investment in R&D at its wafer manufacturing plant at Springtown, which will create 25 highly skilled new jobs.

Seagate is investing £47.4m of its own money and is being aided by long-time supporter Invest NI to the tune of almost £10m (£9.95m).

The funding will be focused on enabling further research and development in nanophotonics, cementing Springtown’s position as a leader in world class technology innovation.

Speaking at the announcement yesterday, Seagate chief executive officer, Dave Mosley said the latest investment will further grow the business, which set up in Derry back in 1994.

“Technology innovation is the cornerstone of our success and the industry-leading innovation delivered by our facility in Springtown has been at the heart of our business strategy for the last 25 years,” he said.

“Today’s investment extends a successful, collaborative partnership with Invest Northern Ireland and will further strengthen our ability to deliver customer-centric technology leadership for the data-driven future of the global economy.”

Jeremy Fitch, executive director of business solutions at Invest NI said they are delighted to continue the successful partnership with Seagate

“Supporting the company along the way has been Invest NI, with every £1 of our support contributing to £4 investment in the local economy.”

“We are delighted to be able to offer support towards this latest project which will see 120 highly skilled researchers here at Springtown, including 25 new recruits, play a major role in the development of ground-breaking new technology,” he said.

Londonderry Chamber of Commerce president, Brian McGrath hailed the investment as “extremely welcome” news.

“It is great to see that the investment will create 25 highly skilled jobs and will bring a number of important economic benefits to the area.

“This is a clear indication and endorsement that the north west is an important place to do business and emphasises that we have impressive talent and ability throughout the region,” Mr McGrath added.

Seagate’s Springtown facility is recognised as one of the foremost 200mm wafer fabrication plants in the world.

The site has grown from an initial charter of world class manufacturing in the first decade of operations to adding development and product launch capabilities in the last ten years. The facility employs over 1,400 staff and the company is estimated to have invested in excess of £1 billion in capital here over the past 25 years.

Danske Bank in Derry has launched a second North West Skills Academy, offering 20 local people the chance to gain training and a possible career with the bank as a Customer Protection Analyst. Following on from Danske Bank’s announcement last August of the creation of 67 new jobs in Derry, support from the Department for the Economy will see the company collaborate with North West Regional College to deliver 20 high quality training opportunities. Participants in the Academy who successfully complete the course will have a job interview with Danske.

Ann Williamson, Head of Employer Skills at the Department for the Economy, said: “Increasing the skills levels of the workforce in the North West, through Assured Skills Academies helps to meet the needs of growing companies, support economic growth and enhance productivity.

“Assured Skills Academies enable employers to work with training providers in the Further and Higher Education sectors to deliver industry-relevant, pre-employment training, helping ensure that expanding businesses can bring on board the people they need to grow and compete.” Niall McGarry, Senior HR Business Partner at Danske Bank, said: “This Assured Skills Academy follows on from the success of the first NW Academy last year and is a signal of our continued commitment to the local area.

Applicants need no experience in the financial services sector; all we ask is for a minimum of three A levels and six GCSEs including maths and English.” The Danske Bank analyst positions are part of a team which plays an important role in protecting the Bank’s customers through managing the risk of financial crime and fraud on their accounts. The team is based in the Bank’s historic city centre building. Mr. McGarry added: “We are keen to bring a range of people and skills into the company and I would encourage anyone who meets the criteria and who is looking for a new challenge to apply.”