Page last updated at 06:39 GMT, Monday, 2 March 2009

NI leaders set for US jobs trip

Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson
The ministers will meet company managers before leaving for the US

First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness are to travel to the US later this week on an investment mission.

During their stay, they will visit Washington and the White House and meet senior company executives.

Ahead of their departure, they have been holding a series of meetings with the management of local branches of American companies.

They held talks with management at engineering firm FG Wilson last week.

The firm announced 250 planned redundancies in January and laid off 180 agency workers in December, and Martin McGuinness said their meeting had helped them gain a greater understanding of the impact of the economic downturn on local manufacturers.

"During our visit to the United States we will be meeting with senior executives of Caterpillar Inc, the parent company of FG Wilson, to reinforce the important contribution which the company makes to the local economy, in terms of both employment and research and development," he said.

Mr Robinson said: "We will also re-emphasise the central focus the executive has placed on the economy and our commitment to provide the most effective and efficient support to business in these difficult times.

"We shall also be meeting other existing investors and exploring trade and investment opportunities, with the strong message that we are, very much, open for business."

While in the US, the ministers said, they will tell corporate America their continued investment was vital to the economic life of Northern Ireland.

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