Its parent company, Bombardier of Canada, has been offered the investment to help it launch a new series of aircraft. The company plans to build the aircraft partly in Belfast.
Subject to formal launch of the program, Bombardier Aerospace Belfast will design and manufacture the wing, engine and tail of the new range of 110- to 130-seater aircraft.
The company would employ an average of 1,700 people throughout the life of the program, but how many of those jobs are new will depend on levels of work elsewhere in the company.
Over the past few years, Shorts has been through a bitter industrial dispute and has shed up to 2,000 jobs.
Michael Ryan, vice president of Bombardier in Belfast, said if the series of aircraft was launched it would ensure the operation remained at the leading edge of aircraft design and manufacture.
There was a general political welcome for the investment, although some asked about investment in other parts of Northern Ireland that have been even worse hit by unemployment through the years.
The MP representing East Belfast, where Shorts is located, Peter Robinson of the DUP, said he was delighted the major boost. He said it provided long-term security for the company and was grateful to the work of all involved.
The SDLP’s enterprise, trade and investment spokesperson, Sean Farren, said he had “lobbied long and hard for a firm commitment of government support for Bombardier in Belfast.
“This is not just a matter of securing jobs in the short-term, but of keeping the heart in our industrial sector. With 1,700 jobs in the pipeline and almost as many again in the supplier chain, we are in a position to retain critical mass in a core area of skilled engineering,” he said.
South Belfast MP, Alasdair McDonnell, also of the SDLP, said it was an important milestone for the city. “It is a clear duty of government to provide the key elements of strategic planning,” he said.
“With the immediate future of our aerospace industry secured, I look forward to our own Assembly and executive taking charge of economic planning. Our challenge will be to promote innovation at all levels, including tailored equity and finance packages,” he said.