The role of Government is to create the conditions where enterprise, entrepreneurship and innovation can flourish and quality employment opportunities can be grown and maintained, and all of the actions that we have taken since coming into office have focused on creating these conditions across all regions. The sustainability of our regions will be significantly shaped by interaction with the international economy — in terms of investment, tourism and the growth of indigenous businesses. Changing the over-reliance on construction and other boom-time sectors of unsustainable growth for employment, is a key focus of Government, and I will shortly be bringing forward an Action Plan for Jobs 2012 which has this objective as a priority.
Two Industrial Development agencies under the aegis of my Department, IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, together with the relevant County Enterprise Boards (CEBs) support enterprise development in the regions in question. One of the high level goals of IDA's strategy "Horizon 2020” is that in the period to end 2014, 50% of new FDI projects will be located outside of Dublin and Cork. Of the 79 investments announced in 2011, 37 have met have met this criteria. These announcements alone have the potential to create more than 3,000 jobs. At present, there are a total of 120 IDA supported companies employing over 17,500 people between both regions.
Enterprise Ireland has a wide range of programmes to address the multi-disciplinary demands of entrepreneurship and the diversity of business types. Between the two regions, the agency has almost 700 clients employing over 17,500 people. In 2011, Enterprise Ireland-assisted companies created 457 new full-time jobs in the Midlands region and 1,144 in the West. In addition, over €6.7m was approved for the agency's client companies in the West regions.
In 2010, the County and City Enterprise Boards in the Midlands and Western Regions paid out over €2.3m in grant assistance to 207 clients. The CEBs will continue to ensure that available funds are targeted to maximise entrepreneurial development and engage and work with microenterprise businesses on an ongoing basis with strong referral to sister agencies to progress the needs of the businesses in their respective areas.