OVER £100 million of government funding has been announced to boost the economy in the North West region.
The Derry and Strabane district area city deal is to receive £50m to support innovation and grow the area’s digital sector.
A further £55m has been allocated to an Inclusive Future Fund for the region, the first of its kind in the UK.
It aims to fund job creation and projects designed to tackle deprivation and develop young people’s skills.
And there is an expectation that if and when the NI Executive returns Stormont will match the £105m investment pound for pound.
British Secretary Karen Bradley said the new fund “recognises the unique circumstances facing the region and will help create new opportunities for the whole of the community, especially for young people.”
She said the £105m funding package “is a major boost to the economic potential of the region.”
Ms Bradley said it “will help strengthen the foundations for greater prosperity and a stronger, more united society.”Derry City and Strabane District Council anticipates the funding will be further boosted by the Northern Ireland government and additional financing from project partners and the private sector.
The local authority estimates total investment will top £300m.
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane Disrict Council Councillor John Boyle said: “This hugely significant announcement today for the Derry and Strabane District will go some considerable way in addressing the long-standing obstacles to economic development that this city region and its people face.
“It is good news and is the result of an enormous amount of work and sustained effort invested by council and the city and regional partners to develop, deliver and negotiate on the bid.”
The city deal plans include the establishment of a landmark riverfront university medical education and innovation hub.
It is envisaged that would create 200 new research posts and increase Ulster University numbers in the city by 2,000.
Proposals also include improvements to the region’s digital connectivity, the creation of skills academies and the creation of a Centre for Industrial Digitisation, Robotics and Automation.
Urban regeneration, infrastructure and tourism projects are also detailed in the city deal proposals.
It is the second city deal to be announced for Northern Ireland.
An agreement was signed in March that will see Belfast and six other council areas receive investment of £350m.
Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said the combined funding package for the north west “will bring enormous benefits for years to come.”