I have already stated here today that the Government is committed to regional development. The Deputy can see from the IDA Ireland figures the percentage of new jobs that are being created and the investment made outside of Dublin. We are working towards ambitious targets to ensure that employment and investment are fairly distributed, if one likes, as much as possible throughout the country. I am sure the Deputy is familiar with the fact that in June 2015 my Department published a midlands regional enterprise strategy as part of the Action Plan for Jobs. I take the Deputy's point that more needs to be done, especially in counties such as County Laois. County Laois is marketed by IDA Ireland as part of the midlands region, together with counties Westmeath, Longford and Offaly. There are 30 multinational companies based in the midlands, employing 4,280 people. There are 115 people employed by those IDA Ireland client companies based in County Laois.
Site visits represent one tool through which IDA Ireland has sought to encourage more investment in County Laois. There were ten such visits to the county across 2015 and 2016, which ultimately led to the creation of 28 new IDA Ireland-supported jobs. I assure the Deputy that the agency continues to promote County Laois as an investment location to overseas companies. I am hopeful that further jobs will be created there by IDA Ireland companies and clients in the future.
County Laois is also part of the midlands region for the purposes of the regional action plans. The County Laois local enterprise office, LEO, is currently advancing three projects which are in receipt of approximately €230,000 of funding through the LEO competitive fund. The Deputy will be familiar with that fund. It was made available for the regional action plans. That will support the growth of micro-enterprises and innovation in small firms, which is more necessary now than ever, as well as job creation.