usiness and civic leaders from Londonderry are meeting their counterparts in Boston this week for a major international investment conference. The ‘Gateways to Tomorrow’ conference takes place on Wednesday and Thursday and is seen as an opportunity to cement commercial relationships between the two cities.
Congressman Richard E. Neal, Chairman of the Friends of Ireland in the House of Representatives, says: “I have no doubt that American companies will find enormous opportunities in the northwest of Ireland. Similarly, our world -class universities in Massachusetts look forward to creating mutually beneficial alliances with the University of Ulster at Magee, Derry.”
One of the keynote speakers at the event will be Bjarni Thorvardarson, chief executive of Hibernia Atlantic, which is laying a new high speed broadband cable link from the United States. This will come ashore near Coleraine before leading into a new telehouse to be built in Derry on the site of the former military base at the Fort George site, which is being managed by the city’s urban regeneration company Ilex.
The main sponsor of the conference is Derry’s Garvan O’Doherty Group. Its chief executive, Garvan O’Doherty, says: “To build Derry’s economy we must create and strengthen our international links. Given the close historic connections that Derry has with the United States – and particularly Boston and Massachusetts – it is only natural that this link is particularly important for us.
“The building of the telehouse in Derry is not merely an important physical connection, it is also significant as a symbol for how Derry can benefit from working with the United States. Business and civic leaders in Derry, Boston and Massachusetts have committed to this conference and in doing so we are expressing our determination that we will extend the commercial links across the continents and through this will improve Derry for all its citizens.”
Other leading politicians and business leaders from Boston and the state of Massachusetts will attend the conference. These include State Senate President Therese Murray and State Treasurer Tim Cahill, who both recently visited Derry and expressed their commitment to work with the city to support its economic development. The conference is also backed by the Boston Irish Business Association.
Those attending from Northern Ireland include business leaders from Derry, regional development minister Conor Murphy and Derry City Council chief executive Valerie Watts.