Former IIBN-NY Chair and Current Board Member, Sean Gaffey, took part in a Senior US business delegation to Northern Ireland led by Secretary of State John Kerry’s US Special Representative for Global Partnerships, Andrew “Drew” O’Brien. On the trip Sean and the Delegation met with US Companies such as Seagate Technologies, DuPont, Caterpillar, Allstate, Liberty Mutual, and Citibank, as well as many companies based in Northern Ireland, such as Randox Laboratories. The group also toured the NI Science Park and the Titanic Quarter, and met with numerous ministers and government officials, including the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister.
Highlights of the mission included tours of the Ebrington and Waterside sites in Londonderry/Derry by the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. Speaking after the tours, Mr McGuinness said: “I was honored to welcome Drew O’Brien and this Senior US business Delegation to Derry as the first element of their visit to the North of Ireland. Drew has been very supportive of our economic development and today was a welcome opportunity to brief him and the Delegation on key aspects of the local economy and let them see firsthand the incredible transformation of the Ebrington site and the enormous potential for further development in Derry. I feel we have a compelling proposition for potential investors. I will leave no stone unturned at home and abroad in my efforts to attract and retain jobs which enable people to provide for their families.”
The Delegation also met with Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Jonathan Bell who commented, “For many years now the United States has been an important investment and trading partner and also a great friend of Northern Ireland. The US remains our number one foreign direct investor with 175 US companies employing nearly 24,000 people in Northern Ireland. Just over £1billion of goods are also currently exported to the US by local businesses. Combined with our existing strengths of a talented workforce and our competitive cost base, a reduced rate of Corporation Tax will significantly add to the attractiveness of Northern Ireland as an investment location for existing and potential new investors, as well as bring benefits to our local business base. Indeed, no region in Western Europe will have a lower rate of Corporation Tax. And coupled with government support through Invest Northern Ireland for job creation, training and research, development and innovation, Northern Ireland will be one of the most attractive location propositions in Western Europe. I am delighted that we will have an even more attractive package to offer potential US investors in terms of tax, talent and value for money. Going forward I hope we can build on our strong links with the United States as we continue to develop our reputation as a great place in which to work, live and do business.”
Reflecting on the trip, Sean commented “Northern Ireland is ripe for investment like no other place I’ve ever visited. The combination of a highly educated workforce, universities willing to partner with the private sector, and a budding hub for entrepreneurs to build companies has created an environment for companies to thrive that is second to none. I was honored to be a part of the mission and it’s my goal to lead future delegations to Northern Ireland to show other businessmen and women the outstanding opportunities that are available and obvious.”