I am informed by IDA Ireland that in the two year period from the beginning of 2011 to the end of 2012, the Agency sponsored a total of 37 site visits by potential investors to Waterford city and county. There were 26 such visits during 2012 and 11 during 2011. This compares with a total of 19 visits in the previous two year period (11 in 2010 and 8 in 2009). These site visits were from new companies visiting the location for the first time and also from senior executives of existing client companies. For reasons of client confidentiality and commercial sensitivity IDA does not comment on site visits by individual companies or on site visits to specific locations.
As Ireland competes for high quality investments, the concept of scale is crucial. Leading global corporations require a significant population pool, access to qualified talent, world standard physical and digital infrastructure coupled with the availability of sophisticated professional and business support services. I am, however, mindful of the concerns that have been expressed by Deputies on all sides of the House about the relatively low level of site visits to certain regional locations and I have raised this matter with the CEO of IDA Ireland with a view to exploring what further initiatives can be taken to influence potential investors to invest in such locations.
I am mindful, also, that in order to ensure that Ireland can continue to compete globally for FDI, it will be necessary to undertake an in depth analysis of our FDI strategy with a view to informing the formulation of an appropriate strategy for the period post 2014. This analysis, which will be undertaken later this year, will take account of factors such as key trends emerging in FDI best practice internationally, Ireland’s strengths in attracting FDI, any changes to the EU’s State Aid rules that may be introduced in the near future and our agreed approach to regional development. In the meantime, IDA Ireland has assured me that it will in 2013, in accordance with the Government’s recently announced 2013 Action Plan for Jobs, seek to target more than 130 new investments, secure €500 million of R&D expenditure and create 13,000 new jobs in its client companies.