A LOCAL MLA has criticised plans to bring Invest NI’s overseas team to Fermanagh saying the county will not be well represented while also accusing the jobs agency of failing to promote the area as a potential investment spot.
Invest NI recently revealed they are in the early planning stages in bringing teams from America, Asia and mainland Europe to visit Fermanagh for two days next year as part of their annual sales conference.
The aim behind the conference is for the teams to engage with local businesses and stakeholders and “enhance” their knowledge of Fermanagh’s “proposition”.
But Sinn Fein’s Phil Flanagan said that while “it was a positive start” it would not be “good enough” on its own.
He said: “This involves bringing back all the overseas Invest NI staff for a two-day training conference. They spend two days in a given area in the North and receive training and team building exercises and that kind of thing to learn more about the current product offering here.
“They will be basically staying in a hotel in Fermanagh for two days and that’s it. It will be presented to them as somewhere very hard to get to.
“Invest NI and the DETI (Department of Enterprise, Trade & Investment) need to do an awful lot more to firm up what Fermanagh product offering is and what we can offer that others can’t.
“That’s where the works needs to go at the minute and that’s being neglected.
“Invest NI’s promotion of Fermanagh is a big stretch of water with a hotel beside it. If you look at any of the promotion by Invest NI it’s a picture of the Lough Erne Golf Resort.
“That’s not going to encourage anyone to open a factory in Fermanagh.”
The Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA also called on DETI minister Arlene Foster to do more in attracting foreign investors to the county.
He also claimed there was a certain degree of “discrimination” against counties like Fermanagh and Tyrone by DETI.
His comments come the day after the investment conference in Belfast was wrapped up. The conference was a direct result of this year’s G8 Summit in Fermanagh earlier this year and was held in an attempt to gain on any economic potential from the G8.
The two-day conference was attended by 150 potential and existing investors.
Local food, including beef from Kettyle Foods in Lisnaskea, was served at both Hillsborough Castle and at Parliament Buildings and sampled by those attending the investment conference.
The conference has been hailed as a success story with thousands of jobs thought to be created in the North on the back of the event.
But Mr Flanagan remains sceptical over it’s potential for Fermanagh.
“Conferences themselves are a very lucrative business. We have a number of hotels in Fermanagh that can and should do better from conferences, whether they are all Ireland conferences or European conferences.
“But in terms of how Fermanagh will benefit from the conference, I don’t really know.”
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