Thursday, 20 June 2019
Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters
IDA Ireland Site Visits
I thank the Senator for raising this issue, which she has on many occasions. I visited Ballinasloe early last year to see the town at first hand. I am aware of the hard work the Senator is doing to try to attract investment to her region. It is something we are all trying to do for our own regions.
I stress that the Government is determined to support the growth of high quality and sustainable employment in all regions, including in County Roscommon. Regional development is, and will remain, a national priority, and sustained efforts are being made to foster job creation and investment all over the country. IDA Ireland, of course, plays a major role in this. Every region in Ireland has experienced foreign direct investment, FDI, employment gains in recent years and more than 132,000 people are now employed by 681 IDA Ireland client companies located outside Dublin, with 50% of all new FDI jobs created last year based in regional locations.
The agency continues to market Roscommon to potential investors. IDA Ireland works closely with Enterprise Ireland and its indigenous base of companies to enhance clusters, which are important. It is important that IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and local enterprise offices, LEOs, work together to ensure they can create employment in the regions. They work together to participate in site visits and maximise benefits for the county. From 2015 until 2017, the agency paid almost €920,000 in grants to FDI companies in Roscommon. These grants are an important means of encouraging companies to invest in Ireland, particularly in regional locations such as Roscommon.
With regard to site visits, Senator Hopkins is correct that IDA Ireland hosted three site visits to Roscommon in 2017 and 2018. While there have been no site visits to the county so far in 2019, it is worth remembering that such visits do not reflect investment potential in an area. Many of the FDI companies in the regions are existing companies, which are solidifying and growing their bases in the regions. In fact, overall employment trends in County Roscommon are positive. Nine IDA Ireland-supported companies operate in the county, employing 1,171 people, which is an increase of 3% compared to the previous year. FDI is increasing. According to the most recent FDI employment data, between 2012 and the end of 2018, the county experienced a 25% increase in FDI employment.
The Government recently launched regional action plans to further stimulate job creation and investment in the regions. In February, the Minister, Deputy Humphreys, launched the west regional enterprise plan. This is focused on six strategic objectives that build on the region's strengths and address vulnerabilities. These include achieving further development and growth in life sciences, agritech, tourism and the creative sector, as well as strengthening the regional ecosystem with regard to skills availability and enterprise space. Jobs growth has been strong in all regions, including the west. As the Senator said, we are awaiting IDA Ireland's results for the west later this morning. There are 28,400 more people at work in the west today than at the beginning of 2015, when the then Government first launched regional jobs plans, and the unemployment rate has reduced significantly from almost 12.6% to 5.5%.