IDA Ireland is the agency with statutory responsibility for the attraction of foreign direct investment to Ireland and its regions. The agency, through its project divisions and network of overseas offices, is actively marketing County Kerry to overseas investors as a potential location for foreign direct investment. However, the current economic slowdown has meant that fewer companies are actively seeking to invest overseas. Ultimately decisions regarding where to locate a project, including what areas to visit as potential locations are taken by overseas investors. In 2003 five overseas investors visited Kerry, including two who visited north Kerry.
In addition to targeting potential new projects, IDA Ireland is also working with the existing base of companies in the county with a view to supporting such companies with potential expansions and diversification of activities. There is a diverse range of companies located in Kerry, representing a number of industry sectors, including manufacturing, international services, engineering, pharmaceuticals and consumer products. IDA Ireland believes that a number of these have the potential to expand and or take on additional responsibilities or activities.
To continue to enhance the attractiveness of Kerry as a location for inward investment, IDA commenced site development works in 2002 on its business and technology park at Tiernaboul in Killarney. This site development work, which is now complete, involved significant landscaping, access development and site clearance work, all of which has resulted in the upgrading of the overall appeal of the location.
In addition, a local group of business people, have completed a new building of 14,716 square feet on a site acquired from IDA on the business and technology park and IDA Ireland is actively marketing this facility as an alternative property solution to present to potential investors.
IDA Ireland believes that these investments, together with other available facilities such as Kerry technology park in Tralee, will put Kerry in a position to compete more competitively for inward investment in the manufacturing, ICT, software and international services sectors. The designation of both Tralee and Killarney as hub towns under the Government's national spatial strategy will also add to the attractiveness of the county for overseas investment.
IDA Ireland believes that regions need magnets of attraction, some compelling business reason or unique selling proposition, that will attract investors. The challenge of achieving high value FDI into regional locations is considerable; nevertheless, progress is being made. Each region needs a hub of attraction around which, for approximately 40 or 50 kilometres in every direction, the region can grow through attracting a wide range of enterprises, both local and international, which emerge because of the integrated competitive strengths of that region.
I am confident that the strategies and policies being pursued by IDA in Kerry, together with the ongoing commitment of Government to regional development will bear fruit in terms of overseas investment and jobs for the people of Kerry.