Some of the world’s largest and best-known companies may invest in Northern Ireland as a result of the forthcoming investment conference in Washington, the US economic envoy Declan Kelly told Business Month in an exclusive interview. It is hoped that the conference will lead to more than a dozen major new investment projects being launched in Northern Ireland.
The “potential investing community”, as Kelly describes them, attending the investment conference are already in dialogue with either Kelly’s own offices in Washington and New York, or else are involved in discussions with Invest NI. These include large US companies that have been “targets for some time”, says Kelly
One of the objectives of the day is to produce an action plan, so that potential and existing investors remain in contact with each other, enabling companies with a presence in Northern Ireland – as well as the US and Northern Ireland governments – to support new investors to launch operations here. The focus is on a limited number of companies that Kelly’s office and Invest NI believe can be persuaded to set-up operations in Northern Ireland.
“We are keeping it very small deliberately,” says Kelly. “We are inviting just the participating companies, the relevant members of government and any key outsider advisors who would be relevant in this context. It is very much about quality time. The total number of people attending will not be in excess of 70 or 75 people.
“The number of companies we have invited is exceeding our original targets. We are very happy with the turnout and the quality of people who are coming. Virtually all the companies we targeted six months ago when we began working on this project have agreed to participate, so we are very happy with this too.”
Kelly says that it would be wrong for him to disclose which companies will attend and who the potential investing companies are, but he provides some tantalising hints. “We are keeping the names of the companies confidential, but I can tell you that a large number of them are among the biggest names in the world,” he explains. “The majority of them will be Fortune 100, and in other cases Fortune 500, companies.
“They are drawn from financial services, technology, manufacturing, creative media, digital media and business services. They are from both coasts of the United States and the middle of the United States, from throughout the entire country. In all cases we have identified the person who is the decision-maker or the influencer who can put forward a case for locating in Northern Ireland if they come away from this event convinced.”
Famed NBC business news anchor Maria Bartiromo will be chairing part of the conference, before those attending break off into small discussion groups. The day will be rounded off with a formal dinner hosted by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Those attending from Northern Ireland include First Minister Peter Robinson, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and enterprise minister Arlene Foster.