Written Answers. - Job Creation.
63 Mr. B. Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the proposals by the industrial development agencies to attract inward investment or to assist in the creation of jobs throughout County Cavan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19485/03]
The issue of job creation is a day-to-day operational issue for the enterprise development agencies of my Department and is one in which I have no direct function.
IDA Ireland is the agency statutorily charged with the attraction of foreign direct investment to Ireland and its regions. Despite the global economic turndown, the level of foreign direct investment in Ireland, relative to the size of the economy, remains one of the highest in the world. Ireland today competes with many other countries for new projects and, indeed, the relative attractiveness of one regional location in Ireland to another is often the decider for a company as to where it will locate.
The designation of Cavan town as a hub in the national spatial strategy confers on it a strategic position in the overall development plans for Ireland, acknowledging that it can support development in both the gateways and rural areas which surround it. Cavan town with Dundalk, Monaghan and Drogheda, is one of the four towns of emphasis in the north east region for IDA Ireland and is being strongly marketed for new investment. IDA Ireland is currently upgrading its business park in Cavan town. This involves an expenditure of circa €800,000 and is now almost completed. IDA Ireland has secured planning permission for an additional two buildings on its business park and is also actively marketing the building recently vacated by Teradyne on the park.
Enterprise Ireland provides preferential funding for companies, with detailed export plans, who are expanding or establishing a business in the county as part of the BMW region. In 2003 Enterprise Ireland is putting in place a range of new initiatives geared towards clients developing export markets for the first time such as in market mentors, training workshops, and market visits.
Enterprise Ireland has focused on building and construction materials as a targeted sector for County Cavan, and is endeavouring to build on the existing cluster of companies in the county. In addition an €88 million investment by Abbott Laboratories, the Chicago based health care company, to expand its nutritional manufacturing plant at Cootehill, County Cavan, was supported by Enterprise Ireland and will lead to the creation of 100 new jobs over the next three years. Enterprise Ireland approved a total of €1,205,914 in funding to its client companies in County Cavan in 2002 and €40,590 up to 30 May in 2003. Total payments for the two years amounted to €733,257 and €95,884 respectively.
On a micro-enterprise level, Cavan County Enterprise Board is actively involved in the promotion of enterprise and an enterprise culture throughout all areas of County Cavan. From 1 January 2000 to 31 December 2002, 74 projects, with potential to create 181 full-time and 26 part-time jobs, were approved for financial support. During the same period 851 people participated on management development and other training programmes organised and delivered through the County Enterprise Board.
Cavan Innovation and Technology Centre, a joint initiative of Cavan County Enterprise Board and the Cavan County Enterprise Fund, has been developed as part of a cross-Border programme to support local, regional and national agencies in stimulating an environment conducive to innovation, entrepreneurship and inward investment in the Cavan and Fermanagh region. CITC has also been approved as a distance learning outreach centre for the central border area and total investment in the centre to date amounts to approximately €3.2 million.
I am confident that my Department's agencies are working to address the employment needs of County Cavan and in promoting the area for suitable investment projects in the future.
64 Mr. B. Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the proposals to be implemented in relation to the creation of jobs throughout the country as outlined in the programme for Government; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19486/03]
In line with the proposals outlined in the programme for Government, IDA Ireland, the agency statutorily charged with attraction of foreign direct investment continues to make every effort to attract new high quality investment into Ireland and to facilitate the prosperity and development of foreign owned companies already located here. In this regard, achieving a balanced spread of employment creation throughout the country is a top priority for IDA Ireland. The challenge of achieving high value FDI into regional locations is considerable, nevertheless, progress is being made. The adoption of a national spatial strategy that recognises the need for growth centres in regions is critical to this development. IDA Ireland believes that regions need some compelling business reason that will attract investors, and they are determined to see the emergence of strong magnets of attraction in each region.
Enterprise Ireland, which has responsibility for indigenous industry, is ensuring that the momentum in new start-ups is sustained and, in this regard, has formulated new financial products and non-financial support services geared to the needs of these enterprises. It has also developed strategies for the establishment and implementation of new sector businesses such in photonics, nanotechnology, biotechnology and consumer foods. It introduced new seed and venture funds geared to the needs of new or early stage development companies, many of which are sector or region specific. It has invested heavily in infrastructure through the successive community enterprise centre schemes and in establishing incubator space and back-up facilities including webworks facilities in regionally based institutes of technology.
In supporting the further growth of existing businesses Enterprise Ireland has identified the twin drivers of innovation and internationalisation and has developed and implemented policies and initiatives to support businesses to develop their capabilities in these key areas. Specifically Enterprise Ireland has: devoted increasing resources to research and development capability in Irish firms – both for specific projects and in developing the research and development management skills required to sustain innovation. It has prioritised the rate of commercialisation of publicly funded research emerging from research institutes – thus leading to new product-process innovation being embedded in indigenous companies. It has introduced in 2003 a designated competitiveness fund to support the capability of companies – particularly those traditional sectors most vulnerable internationally. It has also brought an intensive focus to the international marketing of Irish companies products and services by developing tailored supports in key markets at individual company level, preparing clients for international marketing, brokering introductions to key buyers internationally and following through with appropriate feedback and aftercare.
Shannon Development has responsibility for the promotion of the indigenous industry sector in the Shannon region – under delegated powers from Enterprise Ireland – and the overall management and promotion of the Shannon free zone. In addition, the company has a role in relation to the provision of industrial infrastructure through the region. In dealing with the current difficult external environment for the enterprise sector, Shannon Development implements the following: delivery of national supports to the indigenous sector and implementation of group based capability programmes in areas such as world class business, e-business, product design and research and development; promotion of start-up companies through programmes such as VenturesStart and the development of a regional network of incubators branded as InnovationWorks.