OVER 160 jobs are to be created in Cookstown in an £11.5 million investment deal into local food facility Vion UK.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster announced the news yesterday as she visited the Molesworth Road pork factory which is set to create a total of 164 jobs.

The huge boost for Mid-Ulster will also see the food factory install new state-of-the-art processing equipment and an upgrade of the company’s chilling technology to replace equipment dating back to 1938.

£960,000 of the cash boost will come from Invest NI which will include almost a quarter of a million pounds of support through its Jobs Fund.

Speaking following yesterday’s announcement, Mid-Ulster DUP Assembly MLA Ian McCrea, said: “I am delighted following the announcement by the DETI Minister that a sizable investment is to be allocated to Vion in Cookstown, with the creation of 164 new jobs.

“Mid Ulster has been hit very hard by the difficult economic times over the past few years and I am delighted at this news that I trust will go some way in reducing unemployment across Mid Ulster.”

Mr McCrea added: “I commend Vion on its vision and continuous employment provision in the local area and I also commend the DETI Minister on her dedication to supporting the creation of new employment opportunities.”

District Council Chairman Sean Clarke said the news would provide great encouragement to those looking for employment in Mid-Ulster and beyond.

“This is fantastic news on the job front for Cookstown. It has been quite sometime that we have had this type of announcement and it will give a lot of encouragement to those who are trying very hard to gain employment here in Cookstown and throughout the District.”

UUP Councillor Trevor Wilson also welcomed the news.

He said: “This is terrific news and a welcome boost for the local economy in Cookstown.

“During this tough economic climate any jobs are very welcome and one that will create many jobs is to be applauded.”

SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone said the investment would give “hope and a future” to those currently unemployed.

“I am delighted to hear this good news particularly in an area where there is unemployment,

“This gives hope and a future to the many people in the area who are struggling to find work, particularly young people.

“I am glad to have some in-put in this project at the start, it is great news,” he said.

Sinn Fein Councillor John McNamee called the announcement a ‘huge boost for both the economy and unemployed’.

“This has to be welcomed particularly in such a well established company and one of Cookstown’s biggest employers.

Councillor McNamee added; “This is a huge boost for the economy and for those seeking job prospects.”

Ulster Unionist MLA Sandra Overend added: “This is fantastic news for the whole Mid-Ulster region and shows how the agri-food sector can help grow our economy. There are a lot of suppliers based in Mid-Ulster who will be delighted with the news and it’s a real boost for Cookstown.”

Cookstown Chief Executive Adrian McCreesh said: “Cookstown District Council are obviously delighted at the announcement of additional jobs coming to Cookstown which will have a significant economic multiplier effect and will positively impact on the well being of our citizens.”