I have been advised by IDA Ireland that, since the Square D closure announcement in January 2003, there have now been nine site visits to Ballinasloe. IDA and other State agencies have actively participated in locally generated marketing initiatives and are involved in ongoing meetings with the Ballinasloe Town Council and Chamber of Commerce. Construction of a second advance technology building of approximately 27,000 sq. ft on the IDA business and technology park, is expected to commence shortly.
Enterprise Ireland has approved a management development grant of €38,000 for the Ballinasloe Area Community Development Group, towards the employment of a manager for the community-owned enterprise centre in Ballinasloe.
FÁS continues to participate with other State agencies in helping people find suitable employment in the Ballinasloe area. FÁS is currently running an extensive childcare training programme in the area and is in the process of upgrading the jobs club in Ballinasloe.
These efforts are being supported by specific IDA initiatives in the midlands, which include a comprehensive IDA property programme in the Athlone business and technology park where two new technology buildings are being marketed by IDA. Recent positive developments include the creation of 80 jobs by Alienware Corporation at their European operations centre in Athlone, together with the announcement that the US software company, Mapics Incorporated, is to establish a technical and shared services centre in the town, leading to the creation of 55 new jobs.
The major decentralisation package announced in the budget includes 110 jobs to be relocated to Ballinasloe and 145 to Athlone. This move demonstrates the Government's commitment to balanced regional development and will provide a further boost to enterprise development in these areas.
I assure the Deputy that the State development agencies, under the auspices of my Department, will continue to work closely together and with local interests in promoting Ballinasloe and Athlone for additional investment and job creation.