III. THE INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT BOARD
AND ITS INWARD INVESTMENT ROLE
14. As Dr John Bradley pointed out in his evidence,
inward investment lies at the very centre of efforts being made
to transform, modernise and develop the Northern Ireland economy.
Inward investment in principle provides an effective basis for
a successful economic growth strategy as it can provide access
to new technologies, upgrading of skills in the local labour force
and entry to global market skills.
IDB's overall vision is to see a larger base of world class companies
in the manufacturing and internationally tradeable services sectors.
It consequently aims to attract, from within these sectors, new
inward investment which will contribute to growth in sustainable
employment and offer opportunities for enhanced job quality.
15. IDB has a set of key objectives and targets for
the three year period to March 2001.
- promotion of 18,000 jobs by externally owned
- 75 per cent of all first time locational visits
from inward investors to be Targeting Social Need (TSN) areas;
- 75 per cent of all first time inward investment
projects to be located in or adjacent to TSN areas.
As at 31 March 1999, 4,162 jobs had been promoted
by externally owned companies; 73 per cent of first time visits
and 62 per cent of first time projects were to TSN areas.
16. IDB seeks to promote Northern Ireland as a location
for inward investment on the basis of a range of attributes principally
relating to the calibre of the workforce, good industrial relations,
low costs and favourable tax and grant régimes. The message
is targeted on both a sectoral and a geographical basis. Sectors
currently targeted are software, telecommunications, network services,
health technologies, electronics and automotive components. Geographical
targeting is currently aimed at Great Britain, parts of Europe,
North America and the Asia Pacific region.
17. IDB's inward investment activity is carried out
by the Inward Investment Group. This has 105 staff, 40 of whom
are deployed overseas while the remainder form a support group
This represents nearly 30 per cent of total IDB staff. Total staff
and promotional activity costs for 1999-2000 were about £7.6
18. All inward investment projects IDB deals with
receive offers of Selective Financial Assistance.
IDB told us that the level of financial assistance depends on
the nature of the project. When it gave evidence in June 1999,
IDB reported that, in the last 12 months, the projects being attracted
had tended to require lower levels of capital investment than
manufacturing industry. Although the actual contribution towards
the project cost may be higher in some cases, the overall level
of support per job promised is significantly less than in some
IDB counselled caution over placing too much weight on year-on-year
comparisons "because the nature of the projects signed up
in the last year by and large is quite different in character
from the projects we have been signing up over previous years."
19. Having persuaded a prospective inward investor
to visit Northern Ireland, IDB has to seek to persuade the investor
to decide to locate there. By definition, most new inward investment
is in principle mobile. IDB estimated that, currently, something
like one in ten visits is leading to a project.
IDB stated that research has shown that, measured in population
terms, Northern Ireland has recently gained a disproportionate
share of Foreign Direct Investment into the British Isles.
21 Ev. p. 115. Back
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Annual Report, 1998-99, p. 37. Back
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