The delegation, led by Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Maolíosa McHugh and Leas Cathoirleach of Donegal County Council, Councillor Noel Jordan, included representatives from 15 local companies, Údaras Na Gaeltachta and senior council officers.
Representatives from Ulster University, North West Regional College and Letterkenny IT also made the trip as the region presented a united front to showcase its offering for inward investment and potential export opportunity.
A key element of the trip was showcasing the region’s entrepreneurship and innovation and to provide local companies with an opportunity to tie into the US market.
The delegation returned to Ireland at the weekend and work has already begun on building on the strong connections made during their week in the US.
“The mission sought to build on the ongoing positive work being carried out by the two Councils to establish strong economic development links and initiatives in the US,” explained Chief Executive of Derry City and Strabane District Council John Kelpie.
“We showcased the region as a well placed, cost competitive investment hub with high speed broadband and a young, talented and well educated workforce.
“Our message was well received and the challenge now is to build on the many positive connections the Councils and travelling companies have made to deliver increased education links and export relationships between our two regions and attract more direct investment into the North West region.”
The delegation began their five day trip in Philadelphia where they met with the City’s Mayor Jim Kenney and representatives from the City’s Chamber of Commerce and civic representatives to plan the details on the 2018 trade mission.
After a day exploring business and life science partnerships in the City of Worcester and an evening meeting with Irish Consul-General Fionnuala Quinlan on Tuesday, the delegation met up with the 15 local companies for the start of three days of networking in Boston.
On Wednesday morning, the Ireland North West Showcase presentation at allowed both Councils to sell the region as a prime area for investment before a networking event allowed the local companies to meet with potential partners in the US.
Thursday saw the delegation take part in an Invest NI breakfast with Ireland’s Ambassador to the US Daniel Mulhall and key decision makers before a meeting with the City of Boston International Economic Development Office and a visit to Boston’s House of Representatives.
The week climaxed with the annual Golden Bridges Conference and Awards on Friday at the Seaport Hotel and World Trade Centre where officers from Ulster University, Letterkenny IT and the North West Regional College joined representatives from Harvard in a panel discussion on the benefits of a strategic alliance between the three further and higher education providers in the region and the increasing partnerships with Boston-based colleges.
Delegates heard from Derry City and Strabane District Council Chief Executive John Kelpie and Donegal County Council Chief Executive Seamus Neely who discussed Ireland’s role as America’s Best Friend in Europe. Officers from both Councils also discussed ‘Driving Tourism to the North West through World Class Events’ and ‘Helping Start-ups Survive and Thrive’.
Reflecting on the trip, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Maolíosa McHugh, said the joined up approach of the region’s civic, business and educational representatives filled him with optimism for the future.
“The message from the Ireland North West delegation was very clear, that we were a prime location for inward investment and trade with Derry as a city operating in partnership with the regional towns of Strabane and Letterkenny,” he noted.
“The trip highlighted the importance of the joined up strategy of our educational institutions with the North West Regional College’s campuses in Strabane and Derry working alongside their colleagues in Ulster University and the Letterkenny Institute of Technology.
“Those institutions’ are part of a strong working relationship with Council and our local businesses and their flexibility in being able to adopt to the needs of industry to address any skills shortages was reassuring to potential investors.”
Among the companies from the Derry City and Strabane District Council area in the Ireland North West delegation are AE Global (formerly Allpipe Engineering); The Clinical Translational Research and Innovation Centre (C-TRIC); ActionSense Ltd; Makematic; NeuroConcise; O’Neill’s Irish International Sports Co Ltd; Troll Inc; and Type 40 Creative.
While Aniar Cumhacht Teoranta; Algaran Teoranta; O’Donnell’s Bakery; Silver Birch Gallery; Meastoiri Domhanda Teo; Eilis Galbraith and DS Environmental Services Ltd from the Donegal County Council area also took part.