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Born in Belfast, nurtured in New York

In her State of the City address to a packed City Hall chamber on Thursday, Feb. 18, Quinn said she would spearhead a jobs package for recession-hit New York with a new high-tech Connect program.

"Creating an economy of innovation means attracting and investing in the kinds of high-tech companies that will grow into the major employers of tomorrow," Quinn said.

However, Quinn admits that New York high-tech start-ups - representing the "best minds in science, medicine and engineering" - swiftly migrate to California where they can avail of "everything it takes to start a new business and create new jobs."

To better compete with the west coast, the Council will roll out a program based on the "Connect" initiative pioneered by the Northern Ireland Science Park chief Steve Orr, who met with the Speaker during her November, '09 visit to Belfast.

"NYC High-Tech Connect will pair start-up companies with experienced entrepreneurs, help them write a business plan and connect them to funding and workspace," explained Quinn.

"We will finally connect all the dots and give new start-ups the support they need so they an create jobs for thousands of New Yorkers."

Speaker Quinn will open the upcoming New York-New Belfast conference slated for the New York June 9-10, and backed by the Irish Echo and its sister company, Belfast Media Group.

"I believe strongly in the shared connections of culture, commerce and friendship between New York and Belfast and think it's great to be able to share best practices, good ideas, and promote international partnerships," Quinn told the Echo.

Steve Orr, head of the NI Science Park in Belfast adds:

"There are very few regions around the world that have managed to transition from an old economy to the new dynamic innovation-led model that is evident in regions such as the Silicon Valley and San Diego, California. A two year pilot of San Diego?s CONNECT model NISP CONNECT, a critical component in the development of the entrepreneurial eco-system, has demonstrated the enormous potential in Northern Ireland to successfully make this transformation.

"We strongly commend Speaker Quinn?s efforts to launch and develop a CONNECT model that could transform NYC into a new global powerhouse of innovation and new start-up companies. Developing strong ties and linking resources, opportunities and knowledge between Northern Ireland and NYC will be an important accelerator to successful evolution of both regions."

Meanwhile, Quinn will be rolling out the green carpet at City Hall on Tuesday, March 9 for the City council's annual celebration of Irish heritage and culture

The evening will include a special tribute to the life and legacy of Senator Ted Kenned with the presentation of the Thomas Manton award to be accepted by the late senator's niece, Caroline Kennedy

Also being honored at the gathering will be Larry M. McCarthy, Gaelic Athletic Association of Greater New York, Maureen Fergus Sheehan of Part of the Solution and John O. Murphy of Irish Network NYC

Performances at the celebration will be by the Keltic Dreams dance troupe and traditional musician, Mick Maloney.

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