The Belfast International Homecoming Conference has officially launched with businesses tapping into Diaspora relationships as transatlantic opportunities are knocking on an open door! 

Brexit uncertainty should not hold back ambitions Northern Irish businesses, was the message from the launch of the Belfast International Homecoming Conference, taking place this October.

Irish American political and business leaders are poised to strengthen their bonds with Belfast post-Brexit. This was the message from senior New York politicians visiting Belfast ahead of next month’s Belfast International Homecoming conference.

Assemblyman Mike Cusick, President of the American Irish Legislators Society of the New York State Legislature said, “We were first invited to take part in the Belfast Homecoming in 2013, to find out more about the city’s transformation in the wake of the Good Friday Agreement.

Read more: Global assaults on rights to feature at Belfast International Homecoming Legal Symposium

“We have been coming back since that first visit to ensure that the bridges of commerce, community and culture are strengthened, regardless of the threat of Brexit or ongoing political difficulties. I am delighted to be leading a 40-strong delegation to Belfast as part of our latest fact-finding tour across the island. Now as an Honorary Chair of the Homecoming, and along with many of my colleagues in the State Legislature, we consider ourselves as proud ambassadors of the new Belfast.”

The sixth Belfast International Homecoming will take place from 16-18 October in Belfast. The annual business and investment conference will be attended by representatives from the British and Irish governments, prominent US politicians and North American business leaders. It is supported by Ulster Bank, Belfast Harbour and Hastings Hotels, along with Belfast City Council and Tourism NI and is seen as a vital opportunity to build international business links.

Joe O’Neill, Chief Executive of Belfast Harbour, hosts of the Homecoming, explained that this year’s conference theme “Be the Bridge” will forge new connections and cement existing relationships, with the aim of building a better Belfast.

Read more: Heft of the Diaspora brought to bear on Brexit challenges

O’Neill said, “Given the diverse nature of our business, Belfast Harbour has a unique opportunity to help Belfast fulfil its potential. Achieving that requires a partnership approach to enhance the city’s skill base and develop new markets. It also means building relationships beyond these shores and the Belfast International Homecoming conference provides a great way to harness the goodwill and interest of the North American diaspora.”

Representatives of 30 North American bodies from key locations including Boston, New York City, Montana, Chicago and Toronto are expected in the city next month.

The conference’s three days of events will include a tourism breakfast, an international Legal Symposium hosted by the Law Society of NI, a Banquet in Belfast City Hall and the Be the Bridge Business and Investment Conference at Belfast Harbour Commissioners’ Office. A new addition to this year’s event will be a showcase of Northern Ireland’s rising talent when 12 pioneering young people will be named as Belfast Homecoming Young Ambassadors.

Conference delegate, Conor McCoy, who is First Vice President at Wells Fargo Advisors in New York said, “I grew up in Belfast, so my family connection creates affection and a desire to support the city’s progress. From a business perspective, there are so many new opportunities being provided in sectors such as tourism and technology. The Belfast International Homecoming is a great opportunity to give the city the exposure it deserves. The “Be the Bridge” theme is particularly apt as the Irish-American community has a powerful interest in maintaining links to home. I look forward to returning and building on those relationships.”

For all conference information and ticket bookings visit www.belfasthomecoming.com.

A delegation of Irish American political and business leaders: (l-r) Joe O’Neill, Belfast Harbour, New York State Assemblymen, Mike Cusick and Mike Fitzpatrick, honorary Chairs of the Belfast Homecoming, along with Terry Robb, Ulster Bank and Danny McConnell, Deloitte Belfast.MT Hurson