Invest NI right to target South Belfast?

Invest NI has come under fire from Sinn Fein and the SDLP, who say Invest NI’s figures show that they intend to site nearly 30% of all its planned investment for this cycle in south Belfast, more than three times the combined investment for the seven more impoverished constituencies west of the Bann. They have been joined by the Federation of Small Businesses who have called for a meeting to discuss the “serious imbalances”.

Invest NI have responded by saying assistance provided to clients within NTSN (New Targeting Social Needs) areas represented 57% of the total value of offers made during 2003-04.

Putting aside which side is telling the truth about the investment figures for a moment, is it the job of a development agency “to counter imbalances in the economy and direct development to where its social impact can be greatest”, as SDLP Assembly member Eugene McMenamin claims or is it more important, especially with the strong competition for Foreign Direct Investment, for Northern Ireland to get investment into the areas most attractive for business (infrastructure, stability, educated workforce etc.) rather than losing it altogether?