First Minister, The Rt. Hon. Arlene Foster and the deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness last night attended the Ulster Business Magazine ‘Top 100 companies’ event in the Great Hall at Queen’s University, Belfast.
Ulster Business magazine hosted the event in partnership with corporate law firm, A & L Goodbody following the publication of “Ulster Business Top 100 Companies 2016.”
Speaking at the event the First Minister, Arlene Foster said: “Companies are the driving force injecting forward momentum into Northern Ireland’s economy and it is only right to celebrate your achievements.
“This is a time of great potential for Northern Ireland and we have laid strong foundations which are helping underpin the recovery of Northern Ireland’s economy.
“Significant progress has already been made in terms of jobs and investment. Over the last five years Invest Northern Ireland has delivered the promotion of 42,488 new jobs, £3billion of employment related investment, £589million of business investment in Research & Development, £38million of loans made through the Growth Loan Fund, and a 9.1% growth in manufacturing exports in 2015-16 from 2014-15. These achievements have benefited the whole of Northern Ireland and have delivered a return of almost £6 of investment in our economy for every £1 of Invest NI support.
“I pay tribute to, not just to the Top 100 companies which have been featured by Ulster Business, but to all of our businesses – large and small – for the valuable contribution they make to our local economy. The Northern Ireland Executive will work in partnership with all businesses to provide more and better jobs through increased foreign direct investment and support for local companies.
“We will leave no stone unturned in building Northern Ireland’s international reputation as one of the best places anywhere in the world to do business. By working together, we can and we will deliver a better and more prosperous future for Northern Ireland.”
The deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness said: “The Ulster Business Top Companies 2016 event was a night to celebrate the success of commerce and in particular, our companies who make a massive contribution in sustaining, supporting and stimulating the local economy.
“As an Executive we are determined to support companies and at the same time grow the economy and create much needed jobs. Just this week figures released reported the number claiming unemployment benefits here continues to fall. At 5.6%, the unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since the end of 2008. But we must not be complacent and we need to increase collaboration between business and academia and ensure we are at the cutting edge of new technologies and processes, and have capacity to exploit new global technologies.
“We are developing a new Investment Strategy that will set out the Executive’s priorities for investment over the next 10 years. In addition to investment by the Executive, it will reflect the vital contribution of the reformed local government sector, the regulated utilities and the private sector. It will set out a strategic roadmap for future investment in our regional infrastructure and the principles guiding decisions, consistent with and supporting the new Programme for Government.
“I want to strengthen the links between the public and private sector, between the Executive and our business community. We are determined to deliver and to move forward with people and businesses who want to make a positive contribution to create a better future for all. I thank all companies for their continued support and wish them all every success for the future.”