Interim CEO of Invest NI Mel Chittock says the agency will continue to land investments for the region.
Northern Ireland’s investment pipeline remains strong and will continue to attract investment in the coming years, Invest Northern Ireland’s interim CEO Mel Chittock told an NI Assembly Economy Committee yesterday (2 March).
Chittock was accompanied by Invest NI chair Rose Mary Stalker and executive Leadership colleagues.
“What I can say, with full conviction is that there has been no knock-on impact to our work to secure investment from Britain, Europe or the US”
In his opening remarks he told the Committee: “The shape of economies all over the world has radically changed in the last couple of years. Northern Ireland’s economy is no different.
“In response to this, Invest NI has to change too. This change is positive. It is not a response to internal crises. Or to failed delivery. It is a change for the good, to ensure we meet the new needs of Northern Ireland.”
As part of the Committee meeting, Mel updated the Committee on Invest NI’s budget position and its pause on issuing Letters of Offer.
“We had to take the decision to pause issuing Letters of Offer – it would have been irresponsible to commit to projects we might not have had sufficient budget to support. This was not unique to Invest NI. Other Departments and Arm’s Length Bodies were also asked to pause writing new business.
“I am pleased to advise, however, that earlier this week we received an indicative budget allocation. This is to help us plan while the Department awaits its final budget. We thank the Minister and the Department for providing us with this so we can plan for the year ahead.”
He indicated that Brexit is going to impact funding.
“I would like to stress, this does not mean it is business as usual. In support of 10X, and in light of continued budget pressures now and in future years, heightened by loss of ERDF funding, we will not be continuing to support businesses in the same way that we have in the past.”
Speaking about the speculation of a crisis within the agency, Mel responded: “There is no crisis.”
He confirmed that for a short period nearly 300 staff had been diverted to work on the High Street Scheme, to process applications quickly and support the Department to get vouchers and the money flowing into the economy.
Mel said: “They did an amazing job. There was no knock-on impact to our business. This was down to the amazing effort of our team. They pulled out all the stops – just like they did to support delivery of the COVID schemes. I am immensely proud of them for what they did.
“What I can say, with full conviction is that there has been no knock-on impact to our work to secure investment from Britain, Europe or the US. We still have a team in Europe, we still have a team in Briain, and we still have a team in the US. Our investment pipeline remains strong and we continue to attract inward investment projects comparable to levels in previous years.”