I am very disappointed that Cardinal Health Inc. has decided not to proceed with its proposed investment in a new pharmaceuticals facility in Longford. According to the company, the decision was due to significant changes in its business priorities. In 2002, IDA Ireland reactivated its focus on Longford and put in place a comprehensive marketing and development programme. This marketing programme has already yielded significant results for the area. In March 2003, Abbott Laboratories announced a €70 million investment and the creation of 600 new jobs for the town. Most of these jobs will be for third level graduates. Site acquisition is completed, planning applied for and granted, and construction of the new Abbott facility is well ahead of programme. This is very real progress and a significant success for Longford and the region.
IDA Ireland is also committed to the development of a new business park in Longford town. Furthermore, the Longford County Enterprise Board is seeking planning permission for a community enterprise centre in Longford which will support start-up businesses. Enterprise Ireland continues to work with indigenous companies in County Longford. Recent positive developments by Enterprise Ireland supported companies in Longford include expansions by Green Isle Limited and Century Homes which will lead to an additional 120 jobs.
Under the Government's major decentralisation programme announced in the budget, 130 jobs are to be relocated to Longford. This move demonstrates the Government's commitment to balanced regional development and will provide a further boost to enterprise development in the county. I am satisfied that the combined efforts of the State development agencies, under the aegis of my Department, in co-operation with local interests, should provide an adequate framework to ensure continued job creation and investment in the Longford area.