I propose to take Questions Nos. 265 and 266 together.
IDA Ireland is in constant contact with Baxter Pharmaceuticals, one of its key client companies in County Mayo. The Agency works on an ongoing basis with the company, and in particular was closely involved with the company in developing its transformation programme, which was announced 3 years ago. In November 2007, Baxter announced a €75m investment programme to transform its operations /manufacturing plants at Castlebar and Swinford, County Mayo, strengthening the future of both plants. The investment was made to develop new technologies and higher value products, improve manufacturing processes, upgrade facilities and re-skill staff. At the time the company employed 900 full time staff plus 100 temporary employees at its Mayo plants.
On the 28th October 2010 the company announced that it planned to seek 150 permanent voluntary redundancies, and the conclusion of 50 temporary contracts. According to the company the decision to seek redundancies was taken following the economic downturn, the subsequent impact on European healthcare cost-savings measures and the ongoing need to improve cost competitiveness. It ensures the manufacturing operations in Mayo are strengthened. The company remains committed to its Mayo plants, which remain a central part in the global Baxter manufacturing network, and will continue to invest in process and technology improvements at the plants. The company will continue to employ circa 900 people when the redundancies are completed.
Key to IDA Ireland's Strategy for County Mayo within the West Region is to progress the development of a knowledge based economy so that the county and particularly the linked hub of Castlebar and Ballina with Westport as a priority location can compete both nationally and internationally for foreign direct investment. IDA Ireland's strategy for the West region is to:
Support the growth and development of the Region's existing clients by working with them to increase their strategic importance through additional functions and activities
To market the West region to overseas clients in order to secure new Greenfield investment.
Strengthen the West Region's product offering by working with relevant partners, including Local Authorities, third level institutions and service providers to enhance the region's Ecosystem.
Provide property solutions with supporting infrastructure to attract foreign direct investment.
In this regard, IDA has and is investing significantly in the provision of planned and focused property solutions in the West region and specifically in Mayo with the development of Business and Technology Parks in Westport and Castlebar and the purchase of c.11.55ha of industrial zoned land on the Sligo Road in Ballina from Mayo County Council. There are 18 IDA supported companies in Mayo employing over 2,918 in permanent jobs and circa 500 in temporary and contract employment.
IDA Ireland recognises the need to provide high value employment opportunities in Mayo which will provide sustainable long-term jobs. IDA Ireland's strategies have proved successful to date in Ireland, despite the difficult and ever changing global economy. The level of foreign direct investment in Ireland, relative to the size of the economy, is one of the highest in Europe. IDA Ireland is confident that the strategies and policies being pursued in County Mayo together with the ongoing commitment to regional development, will bear fruit in terms of overseas investment and jobs. The most recent example of this was the announcement last month by healthcare company Hollister to create a further 250 jobs in Ballina.