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Scale of US investment in Belfast ‘testimony to success of the city’

Published on 12 April 2023

The scale of US investment in Belfast is a “testimony to the success of the city”, a leading business figure has said.

Belfast has consistently ranked as the second-most popular UK destination, behind London, for investment from the United States.

Latest figures show that around 3 per cent of all US tradable services projects in the UK in recent years have been in Belfast, compared to 1.3 per cent in Glasgow and 2 per cent in Manchester.

US software, IT and banking firms have become particularly prominent in the city. Firms like Citi, Allstate and Cognizant Technology have planted their feet in Belfast in recent years, creating thousands of jobs.

Allstate's HQ in Belfast alone, which opened in 2018, represented a £30m investment, while Citi purchased the Gateway Offices building in the Titanic Quarter in 2019 for £34.3m.

On the high street, in the last decade major US brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Starbucks have opened sites in the city.

Investment in infrastructure and education, such as at Queen's University's Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT), has seen a boom in US tech and cybersecurity companies coming to Belfast.

Firms like Liberty IT, Aflac and CME Group have operations in Northern Ireland's capital. Such investment provides well-paid jobs, which in turn boosts the economy.

These firms also support other businesses whose services they use.

Compared to the rest of the UK, Belfast has significantly less labour costs, commercial rents and tax. The city was also the first in Europe to achieve 100 per cent broadband coverage.

Simon Hamilton is the chief executive of the Belfast Chamber.

“Belfast possesses many advantages which have proven to be consistently attractive to US investors including geographical proximity, legal and regulatory compatibility, a business-friendly environment and, above all else, a pipeline of exceptionally talented people,” he said.

“That ability to recruit the talent that firms need, coupled with the world-class research that flows from the city’s two universities, has helped Belfast build an international reputation in sectors like cybersecurity and financial technology and made Belfast a magnet for American companies.

“It is testimony to the success of our city that so many US firms reinvest beyond their initial plans and companies like Citi and Allstate have not only made Belfast their home but have expanded their footprint time and time again, employing thousands of people.

“Belfast’s economic transformation owes a lot to US investment and Belfast Chamber is confident that our city’s attractiveness to global investment will continue.”

Source: Belfast Telegraph