Top investment of £26m for Craigavon

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Craigavon was among the top winners when it came to investment, according to statistics released this week.

A database shows Craigavon came fourth with a total investment of almost £26m.

That worked out at £265.11 investment per head of the population.

Only Belfast, Newtownabbey and Antrim came higher.

The information was obtained by the online news organisation The Detail following Freedom of Information requests and covers April 2011 to September 2014.

A database shows how Invest NI has distributed grants of more than £200m to local firms over the last three years.

The database focuses only on NI firms rather than international investors.

It shows the largest grants went to some of the biggest local employers including Almac in Craigavon, Kainos and Wrightbus.

There were 58 firms in Lurgan which received grant funding while there were 135 in the Portadown area.

In the Gilford area 48 firms received monies in grant aid.

In outlaying areas there were 25 firms in the Magheralin are which were grant-aided and 17 in Donaghcloney.

In the Craigavon area 1,129 jobs were ‘promoted’ however the figures show that 286 were ‘accepted’. It was pointed out that the information is ‘not fully representative’ as sole traders and ‘externally-owned’ businesses are excluded due to data protection issues.

Craigavon is ranked fourth highest in the north for levels of deprivation with more than five percent of the population receiving Job Seekers Allowance.

Invest NI is the government agency that controls millions of pounds to support businesses and create jobs here. It is the cornerstone of Stormont’s economic strategy

Invest NI’s spend per head of population across the north ranged from £33.24 in the former Ards Borough Council area to £452.59 in the former Belfast City Council area.

Invest NI said that its support for business is “demand-led” and that budgets are not allocated to specific locations.

“Of the near 68,000 businesses in Northern Ireland, 65% are located in the east with 35% in the west. In addition, the vast majority of large firms (in terms of employment) are also located in the east,” it said.

“It is therefore only to be expected that we receive a larger proportion of applications for support from businesses based in the east.”

Invest NI added that the support offered to local firms in this period will “ultimately lead to investment in the local economy of £1.7bn and 14,717 new jobs”.