Written Answers. - Job Creation.
118 Mr. N. Treacy asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment the action, if any, he or State agencies under the aegis of his Department propose to take to ensure that employment is maintained and maximised in Ballinasloe, County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3988/97]
The industrial development agencies under the aegis of my Department work hard throughout the country to ensure that new employment opportunities are maximised and that existing jobs are sustained. I outline below, for the Deputy's information, the efforts being made in this regard in Galway, in particular.
Over 4,300 people are employed in 260 Forbairt manufacturing and international services companies in County Galway. Preliminary results from the 1996 Forfás Annual Employment Survey indicate a positive net change of 317 in Forbairt assisted client companies in Galway over the period 1995-96.
Ballinasloe has an indigenous base of 20 companies, employing approximately 500 people. These companies are supported by Forbairt and include Dubarry Shoes, one of the major employers in the town.
Forbairt is in discussions at present with local community groups, particularly the chamber of commerce in Ballinasloe, with a view to assisting them to progress the establishment of an enterprise centre in the town. I understand that the local chamber is currently preparing an application for a feasibility study grant.
Forbairt plans to continue to encourage the development of existing industry in Ballinasloe through its various support programmes.
There are 60 overseas companies in the west extending across a wide range of sectors. These companies provided permanent job opportunities for over 9,100 people last year — this represented an increase of 7 per cent in the numbers employed in overseas firms in the county in 1995. This increase was the third highest regional increase in the country.
Notwithstanding the very good performance for the western region, IDA Ireland is acutely aware that the majority of new jobs created in the region were in fact created in the city and its environs. In full recognition of this, IDA proposes to redouble its efforts this year to achieve a more balanced dispersal of new jobs across the whole region. Considerable effort and resources have been, and will continue to be, invested in securing this important objective. More than half of all job creating investments are not mobile because they come from expansions of existing overseas companies which usually take place on their existing site. Also, many of the new technology-based and large scale investments have specific locational requirements and choose to locate near large urban centres.
This year, IDA Ireland hopes to achieve a better dispersal pattern in the western region, including Ballinasloe, by taking the following steps: favouring locations outside the larger urban centres in every way possible, including the provision of higher grant levels, as appropriate; stimulating and supporting, in conjunction with private sector investors, a major programme of modern advance factory construction at key locations and working closely with local authorities to have available quality sites at priority locations for new industrial investment.
However, IDA stresses that the final decision on location is made by the investor, not the agency, the investor's decision being based primarily on the competitiveness and general attractiveness of individual locations.
Since 1993, the Galway county and city enterprise board (CCEB) has supported 49 projects in the Ballinasloe area in a range of sectors, including manufacturing, engineering, tourism, crafts and horticulture. Grants approved for the projects amount to over £258,500 of which over £178,000 has been drawn down to date. The projects have resulted in the creation of 66 full-time and 21 part-time jobs in the area. Galway CCEB will continue to promote local enterprise throughout all areas of the county, including Ballinasloe.