I propose to take Questions Nos. 296 and 297 together.
As part of its operational responsibilities, FÁS engages closely with companies whose workers are made redundant. The agency assists affected workers to plan new careers, identify training needs and secure alternative employment. It also refers workers to training programmes and establishes special or customised programmes where necessary. In this regard, I understand that FÁS has been very actively involved with both of the companies in question.
The company in Naas announced a major restructuring and upgrading of its operations earlier this year. However, its commitment to Naas continues and this is evidenced by a new €4 million investment designed to ensure that the company becomes a centre of excellence for its core electro-chromic mirror product. While loss-making products have been moved away from Naas, I understand from IDA Ireland that the company has no further plans to relocate any of its operations at present.
Kildare continues to thrive across a broad range of activities in the housing, commercial, services and industrial sectors. As a result, many job opportunities are being created within the county. Some 25 IDA client companies are located in County Kildare employing 10,109 permanent staff. In 2004, significant developments in overseas investment were announced including multi-million euro investments in wafer fabrication and a technology development centre by Intel and Hewlett Packard respectively. The announcement last January by Green Isle Foods of a €22.6 million expansion investment, which is now under way, will lead to the creation of 130 additional jobs in Naas from a current base of 630. This project is supported by Enterprise Ireland and, employment in EI client companies in the county has increased by 46% over the past ten years, from 3,972 to 5,784. This growth is significantly better that the national average.
On 5 May last, I performed the official opening of the office of International Fund Services (Ireland) Limited at Naas, County Kildare. Located in Millennium Park, the Naas facility is on target to employ 140 people by the end of 2005 and 240 by the end of 2006. In September, I opened the first phase of a new €40 million business park in Athy. While it will be known as the Athy Business Campus, I expect that it will have positive implications for both Athy and the wider Kildare region.
Kildare has also benefited from a significant investment in technological infrastructure at the university in Maynooth. Particular efforts are being made to ensure that the university continues to develop strong links with industry. Over the past three years, more than €3.3 million has been approved to support innovation partnerships between industry and the college.
I am satisfied that the agencies under the aegis of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, together with local business interests, will continue to provide good quality training and employment in County Kildare.