As Minister, regional development is one of my top priorities. I am focused on sustaining existing employment in the regions while also working to grow significantly both job creation and investment in every county in the country.
The recent annual results of IDA Ireland have shown that we are making significant progress in increasing jobs supported by foreign direct investment, FDI, in the regions. In 2018, for example, 56% of all net new jobs created by the agency were in locations outside Dublin. Similarly, every region in Ireland posted net gains in jobs last year. More than 132,000 people are employed across 681 firms in IDA Ireland client companies outside the capital, with 58% of all IDA Ireland-supported employment outside of Dublin. This represents the highest number of people employed in the regions by IDA Ireland clients in the agency’s history, with 2018 seeing more IDA Ireland jobs added in the regions than at any time in the past 17 years.
IDA Ireland works daily to promote regional cities and towns to potential investors. Since the beginning of IDA Ireland’s Winning strategy in 2015, 407 investments have been secured for the regions, while almost 27,000 net jobs have been added in locations outside Dublin. To put that in context, an average of 102 investments annually have been won for locations beyond Dublin, compared with an annual average of 69 under the previous strategy. This is a testament to the focus that IDA Ireland has placed on regional investment and the whole-of-government action to enhance our regional offering.
It is important to emphasise that FDI forms only one part of investment in regional locations. Indigenous enterprise is responsible for a significant portion of employment growth, especially outside Dublin. Companies supported by Enterprise Ireland, EI, created more than 9,000 net new jobs last year, with every region benefiting from these increases in employment. There are now more than 215,000 people employed in EI-supported companies, and 64% of these jobs are located outside of Dublin.
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The local enterprise offices, LEOs, have also performed well, with 3,656 net new jobs created in 2018. This brings the total number of people employed in LEO-supported companies to 36,666, with 83.7% of these jobs located outside Dublin.
I remain optimistic about the job creation potential of Irish companies across the regions. To date, I have launched eight of nine regional enterprise plans that my Department has spearheaded with regional stakeholders. The final plan for the south east will be launched in March. These plans will play an important role in encouraging regional investment and job creation throughout the regions. I emphasise that creating jobs in the regions will remain a key objective of IDA Ireland, EI, the LEOs and my Department. We are collectively focused on delivering the fairest possible spread of investment throughout the country. The energy and resources we have invested in regional growth is producing results, as the evidence illustrates. We will continue to do our utmost to encourage further such job growth in all parts of Ireland in the time ahead.