Thursday, 3 June 2021
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
184. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his plans to target regional towns as opposed to major cities in order to expedite balanced national development; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30411/21]
Delivering balanced regional growth is a core objective in the Programme for Government. The National Planning Framework sets out in detail our vision for our rural areas, towns and cities. The revised National Development Plan that the Government is currently developing is a further opportunity to deliver on this vision.
The Government is committed to the development of a ‘Town Centre First’ policy focused on regeneration of rural towns and villages, and my Department’s Retail Forum developed a Framework for Town Centre Renewal which is a useful tool to assist Town Teams in how to improve footfall and customer experience in their towns. We are implementing a strategic approach to town centre regeneration, with the aim of utilising existing buildings and unused lands for new development and promoting residential occupancy in our rural towns and villages, using the National Planning Framework as our guide.
The Deputy will be aware that my Department published the National Remote Work Strategy in January 2021. The Strategy aims to ensure remote work is a permanent feature in our workplaces in a way that maximises economic, social, and environmental benefits across regions. We are aware that the impacts of remote work can be substantial and can fundamentally change the nature of where, how, when, and why we work. Earlier this week the Government launched 'ConnectedHubs.ie'. This shared remote working platform will offer a booking system for employees, entrepreneurs and enterprises. It will provide people with the opportunity to reserve facilities, including hot desks and meeting rooms, at hubs across Ireland.
Overseen by my Department, nine new Regional Enterprise Plans to 2024 are currently being developed by regional stakeholders which will identify growth opportunities, recognise vulnerabilities, and enable job creation across the regions. These plans reinforce and build on the core activities of the IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) and the wider range of State bodies involved in supporting regional enterprise development. Each Plan is overseen by a Regional Steering Committee chaired by a senior level businessperson. My Departmental colleagues, Minister Robert Troy and Minister Damien English are driving the delivery of the new Plans nationally. The new Regional Enterprise Plans to 2024 are expected to be completed in Quarter 3 this year.
The Government has provided funding to assist regional enterprise development and jobs growth. For example, my Department’s Regional Enterprise Development Fund and Border Fund have allocated over €117 million across 79 enterprise strengthening projects in every region over a series of competitive calls since 2017 through Enterprise Ireland. These Funds are supporting significant collaborative and innovative regional projects that, when complete, will provide a timely impetus to job creation in regional locations.
Looking at employment growth, almost two thirds of new jobs created by Enterprise Ireland client companies in 2020 were in regions outside of Dublin while IDA Ireland created 10,082 new jobs outside of Dublin. IDA Ireland’s strategy 2021-2024 targets half of FDI investments overall as going to regions outside of Dublin.