Attracting investment and creating new jobs in regional locations – including County Donegal – is a major priority for both myself and my Department. The IDA has a significant role to play in helping us achieve that objective. It has been working hard, through its staff both here and abroad, to encourage overseas investors to locate or expand in Ireland’s regions. The Agency’s performance demonstrates that these efforts are producing results. There are now, for example, over 132,000 people employed across more than 680 IDA client firms outside of Dublin. 2018 also saw foreign direct investment (FDI) increase in every region of Ireland.
Donegal, along with many other parts of the country, has benefitted from this strong regional focus. The County has experienced a 60% increase in FDI-driven employment since 2012, with job numbers in IDA client firms there increasing from 2,223 in 2012 to 3,564 at the end of last year. In 2018 alone, the total of IDA supported jobs in Donegal increased by 5%, with the County now home to 12 IDA companies including SITA, Optibelt and Pramerica.
There was one new name investment in 2009 in Donegal representing 2.5% of the national total in that year. In 2010 there were no new name investments in the County. In 2011 and 2012 there was one such investment in each year, representing 1.6% and 1.5% of the national totals respectively for those years. Between 2013 and 2018 there were no new name investments in Donegal.
Those statistics, however, only serve to emphasise that FDI performance is not accurately measured by the number of new-name investors, given Donegal’s strong performance – as outlined above – over the last decade. Indeed, the IDA’s experience, over many decades, has shown that the growth of existing overseas firms here can produce as many jobs – if not more – than new name investors. That is why the IDA focuses on both supporting the growth and expansion of its current clients here as well as securing new investors to locate for the first time in locations like Donegal. Pursuing that twin-track strategy has helped produce record FDI results in recent years and should lead to further investment and job creation in the years ahead.
With respect to 2019, the indications are that FDI in Donegal will continue to increase. For example, Abbott Laboratories announced plans last July to expand its workforce in the County with the creation of 500 new jobs. The IDA is already working hard to attract further such high-quality investment to Donegal and continues to promote the County to investors considering investing in Ireland for the first time.
While clear progress has been made in creating new jobs and economic opportunity in Donegal, the Government is determined to achieve more. Efforts will continue in 2019 and beyond, whether in support of indigenous or overseas enterprise, to help create more employment and economic opportunities in the County.