By Irish Echo Staff
The U.S. economic envoy to Northern Ireland, Declan Kelly, has announced that his office is directly involved in Derry's bid to become "U.K. City of Culture" in 2013.
"We have been working closely with the local bid team in the past several weeks to ensure that we provide all possible help and support their efforts to secure victory for Derry-Londonderry and the whole of Northern Ireland as part of this bidding process," said Kelly.
Added Kelly: The bid team has asked us to get even more involved on the ground whenever possible to work alongside the excellent team that has already done a huge deal of work to ensure the city's bid would be short listed. We are delighted to play our part and will work as hard as we can to ensure the judging panel understands the many reasons why Derry-Londonderry, and the Northern Ireland region as a whole, would be a perfect choice to host the City of Culture festivities.
And he continued: "I believe that Derry-Londonderry has an excellent chance of being selected, and I want to make sure that I will do everything possible to support the bid team during the months and days leading up to the decision and announcement. I have pledged the support of myself and my senior staff to help the team in every way possible, including spending time in Derry-Londonderry and participating in the final pitch meetings in Liverpool in June. Senior staff members from my office will be in Derry-Londonderry on a frequent basis and will continue to work as an embedded part of the bid team for the remainder of the process."
"Culture and cultural regeneration plays a significant role in the economic development of any region, and being named UK City of Culture will provide an excellent opportunity to promote all of Northern Ireland."
In praising the city's mayor, Paul Fleming, the city's council and a number of business backers for the bid, Kelly said that his office was working "tirelessly" in support of the bid.
"I want to lend a hand and let them know that the U.S. is behind them all the way as part of its ongoing involvement in supporting economic development in the region through my office," he said.