CEO and Founder of SVG Partners John Hartnett has been appointed to chair a new group that will advise the Northern Ireland Executive on trade and investment opportunities

John Hartnett will advise the executive on west coast and Silicon Valley trade openings

John Hartnett will advise the executive on west coast and Silicon Valley trade openings

From BBC News

Two prominent US-based businessmen have been appointed to chair a new group that will advise the Northern Ireland Executive on trade and investment opportunities.

The first and deputy first ministers made the announcement on a US visit.

Shaun T Kelly will advise on east coast opportunities and John Hartnett will advise on the west coast and Silicon Valley.

Mr Kelly, from Belfast, is the New York-based chief operating officer of professional services firm KPMG.

Mr Hartnett is the founder of SVG Partners, a technology investment company.

Competitive

The men will assist Invest NI in developing opportunities as part a renewed effort investment effort that involves lower corporation tax.

The tax rate in Northern Ireland is due to be cut to 12.5% in 2018.

Shaun T Kelly said a lower rate of corporation tax would make Northern Ireland "a much more attractive proposition" for potential investors

Shaun T Kelly said a lower rate of corporation tax would make Northern Ireland "a much more attractive proposition" for potential investors

Mr Kelly said Northern Ireland was working in a "very competitive environment" but does stand out to potential investors.

"[Companies] are also looking at eastern Europe, India, Asia," he said.

Influence

"Yes, Northern Ireland is definitely on the map, but it's competitive and that's where the lower corporation tax is going to really help.

"It makes [Northern Ireland] a much more attractive proposition."

First Minister Arlene Foster said it was important to have "two men who know Northern Ireland very well, situated here in the United States to advocate for us".

"We will come to the United States and talk to people of influence, but they are here all the time and we felt they could help us bring more jobs to Northern Ireland."

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said the two men were "doing this because they are emotionally and intellectually engaged in trying to assist our process".