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Newry can become known internationally as ‘Silicon Canal’ according to the man who has made the city a world hub for the financial services industry. First Derivatives CEO Brian Conlon made the ambitious suggestion after confirming on Monday that the Canal Quay based plc will take on an additional 365 staff whilst Market Resource Partners (MRP) which is also based at Canal Quay will take on an additional 119 recruits. Speaking to an assembled audience that included First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuiness Mr Conlon says the company’s growth showed just what Newry was capable of. “One of the things I remember growing up was the unemployment league tables on the TV,” he joked. “I think at one point Newry was 38 per cent. It used to annoy me that Newry wasn’t  top – Derry and Strabane beat us. So we are very proud that we are making a difference to our community and the local economy.” The ‘difference’ announced on Monday is expected to be worth £22 a year in salaries alone with a healthy multiplier effect likely to boost large sections of the wider Newry and Mourne economy. “We have offices all over any financial centre you care to name but those offices are primarily driven by people from this part of the world,” Mr Conlon said. “It all starts here in Newry and for 25 people it starts here tomorrow morning at 9.30am when they get their first lecture, the first part of their training programme.” The latest announcement will bring the number of staff working for First Derivatives to nearly 1,500 with many of these employees seconded to bases across the globe. And whilst this is some way off the 225,000 people working in high tech industries in America’s Silicon Valley region it does give the company a notable foothold in the industry. “When I go abroad now, I don’t talk about Newry I talk about Silicon Canal,” Mr Conlon joked before directing a challenge to some of the room’s visiting dignitaries. We have people working with Russians and Chinese and English people and New York Traders, Chicago Traders, French and German IT people,” He said. “We get on with everybody in the word except ourselves.” The latest influx of employees will undoubtedly place strain on the space available at the existing company HQ which sits along Newry Canal between Sugar Island and New Street. Despite rumors that the expansion would require First Derivatives, to fit out a second premises to the city namely the former Woolworth building on Hill Street. A spokesperson for the company said that the new staff will be accommodated in the existing offices. First Derivatives latest jobs announcement has wider implications for the local economy than is perhaps immediately apparent. One need only frequent any of the city’s growing number of cafes and restaurants at lunchtime to realize that not only are hundreds of ‘new’ people working here but they are spending money here as well – something that is providing additional employment opportunities for other sectors of the economy. What’s more the city’s clothes shops appear to have received a healthy boost as a result of the growth of FD with the hundreds of members of staff turned out in stylish business suits whilst supermarkets, petrol stations landlords and car dealerships can also expect more trade. Given the fact that the vast majority of staff are recent graduates then the city’s bars night clubs, restaurants and cinema s and should love blossom florists and jewellers should also expect benefits. Socially the presence of First Derivatives in Newry has also seen a number of sports and arts clubs benefit from new talent. The long term success of the business can also have a bearing ton the number of educated young people who choose to stay in Newry rather than move to Belfast Dublin or London. Continued success could also attract complimentary businesses to the region. If you are looking for a downside expect it to become a little more challenging to find a parking spot in the vicinity of Sugar Island.


Newry Reporter

2nd July 2014