Thursday, 12 July 2012

Questions (115)

Tony McLoughlin


115 Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if considering unemployment numbers in excess of 3,400 people in County Leitrim which has a population of just 32,000, the relevant agencies such as Enterprise Ireland and the Industrial Development Agency are doing enough to attract inward investment and in particular foreign direct investment to Carrick-on-Shannon, which has over 500 people under the age of 25 registered as unemployed at the local exchange office. [34328/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation)

There are 4 IDA Ireland supported companies in Leitrim employing 903 people. These include Bank of America which is based in Carrick on Shannon, ElastoMetall Ireland, and Valspar Industries Ireland Ltd. Mirror Controls International is the most recent investment to Co. Leitrim following the transfer of its production to the Manorhamilton facility from Montfoort, Holland, resulting in the creation of 50 jobs. IDA is actively engaged with its existing base of companies in Leitrim, highlighting the ongoing importance of upskilling/reskilling and the need to add high value activities in order to ensure sustainability and ongoing development.

As Ireland competes for investments at the highest end of the value chain, the concept of scale is crucial. Leading corporations require a significant population of highly qualified talent, essential physical and digital infrastructure coupled with the availability of sophisticated professional support services. There is intense and continual international competition to win FDI, which is mainly dominated by Metro City Regions with populations in excess of 1 million i.e. London, Manchester, Boston and Los Angeles. Ireland has only one Metro City Region, the Greater Dublin area. In order to achieve regional economic development, IDA Ireland focuses on marketing Gateway locations within each Region and highlights the opportunities provided by Hub locations which are within commuting distances of these Gateways. In addition, IDA Ireland promotes other locations as part of its marketing efforts in response to specific client requirements. It must be remembered, however, that in the final analysis, it is the investor who decides where to locate.

Similarly, Enterprise Ireland is actively focused on the creation of new jobs through supporting entrepreneurs setting up new High Potential Start-Up Companies, the retention and creation of new jobs in existing companies and in enhancing the innovation capability of Ireland at a national and regional level through support of research in companies and third level institutions. Enterprise Ireland also supports the provision of incubation space for new start ups both on college campuses and Community Enterprise Centres.

On the 10th June 2012, a new Competitive Feasibility Fund for the North West was launched. The closing date was the 22nd June 2012. This was aimed at entrepreneurs with a new business proposition to create jobs in Leitrim, Sligo and Donegal. A feasibility grant of up to €25,000 (50% of eligible expenditure) is available to investigate the viability of the idea. 37 applications were received, with a number from Co. Leitrim and these are currently being assessed. To date in 2012, total approvals to Enterprise Ireland clients is €36,930 of which €35,159 has been paid. Since the inception of the Innovation Voucher Scheme in 2007, forty seven companies in Leitrim have availed of these vouchers worth a total of €235,000.