The Action Plan for Jobs is the Government's key policy instrument to assist job creation. Its aim is to support enterprises to create employment throughout the whole of the country and in all regions. The 2014 Action Plan for Jobs recognises that regions that support strong and dynamic enterprises are crucial to Ireland's return to overall economic growth. In this context, the Action Plan contains a number of measures to be taken in 2014 to support competitive regions. For example, this year, the IDA will commence building new advanced manufacturing facilities in Waterford and Athlone, and office space in Letterkenny, to help cater for FDI projects.
The Local Government Reform Act 2014 has introduced wide-ranging reforms to Local Government in Ireland and the reconfigured Regional Assemblies will be tasked with preparing regional Spatial and Economic Strategies which will ensure the coordination of economic and spatial development across the regions and enable Local Government to play a stronger role in economic development in general. As a core element of the Action Plan for Jobs, my Department has reformed the system for delivery of support to micro and small enterprises by dissolving the County and City Enterprise Boards and replacing them with Local Enterprise Offices within the Local Authority structure. This reform will help to make the operating environment for businesses more coherent, responsive and conducive to entrepreneurship at local level across the country. The Action Plan also includes a commitment to develop a framework for a Regional Enterprise Strategy to better integrate the efforts of the enterprise development agencies and other regional stakeholders in supporting enterprises. My intention is that the framework will be developed on a pilot basis initially, based on the Midlands region, and focusing, in particular, on co-ordinating the efforts of the agencies under the remit of my own Department – Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, as well as the new Local Enterprise Offices. The overarching objective of the framework is to enhance synergies between the agencies, their client companies and other key stakeholders to maximise the potential for job creation in the region. In addition, many actions under the Entrepreneurship pillar of the Action Plan for Jobs, such as Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Regional Feasibility Funds, will support enterprise development and job growth at regional level. The most recent employment data published by the Central Statistics Office show that employment has grown in most regions of the country, year-on-year. However, we must continue, through the Action Plan for Jobs process, to maximise the job creation potential of all regions.