Enterprise development and job creation in the regions of Ireland is a key policy priority of this Government and my Department has been actively engaged in the regional jobs agenda through the Regional Action Plan for Jobs (RAPJ) initiative for the past two years, involving public and private stakeholders collectively driving a range of innovative and practical actions to support enterprise development as set out in the Plans. The Regional Action Plan for Jobs initiative is a central pillar of the Government’s ambition to create 200,000 new jobs by 2020, 135,000 of which are outside of Dublin.
In addition, in December last year I announced an allocation of €30.5 million in funding to support enterprise capability in the regions, with 21 projects from all over the country receiving funding. This Regional Enterprise Development Fund (REDF) totalling €60 million is being rolled out by Enterprise Ireland over the next 4 years to support the development and implementation of collaborative and innovative projects that can sustain and add to employment at a national, regional and county level. The Fund supports the ambition, goals and implementation of the Regional Action Plans for Jobs. I look forward to supporting more regional initiatives through a second competitive call, which will be launched in March of this year.
My Department continues to liaise with businesses in the regions primarily through the work of the Enterprise Agencies in carrying out their regional strategies.
IDA Ireland is focused on achieving the key development goals set out in its current strategy "Winning: Foreign Direct Investment 2015-2019 ”, including increasing investment by 30% to 40% in every region. Real progress has been made towards that target over the first three years of this strategy with half of all jobs created by IDA client companies since 2015 based outside Dublin. Just under 30,000 jobs have been created in the regions in three years, a positive trend towards increasing the regional spread of FDI all over our country.
A key component of attracting potential multinational investors is the availability of IDA properties across all counties of Ireland. The IDA is directly investing in such sites and facilities to increase the attractiveness of regional locations for FDI. The Agency’s Regional Property Programme (RPP), as announced in 2015, committed €150 million in Exchequer funding over five years to drive the growth of regional FDI by providing property solutions outside Dublin.
Enterprise Ireland supports companies in urban and rural areas to start, innovate and remain competitive in international markets, now and into the future. At the centre of the agency's strategy, Build Scale, Expand Reach 2017 - 2020, are strategic targets focused on:
- Assisting clients to create 60,000 new jobs by 2020 while sustaining the existing record level of jobs;
- Growing the annual exports of client companies by €5bn to €26bn per annum;
- Increasing the level of spend made by client companies in the Irish economy by €4bn to €27bn per annum by 2020; and
- Inspiring more Irish owned companies to have global ambition.
The 5,000 manufacturing and internationally traded services companies that Enterprise Ireland works with are a critical source of existing employment and job creation in every county in Ireland. In 2017 209,338 people were employed at Enterprise Ireland supported companies which includes the creation of 10,309 net new jobs. In 2017 65% of employment in Enterprise Ireland supported companies was outside of Dublin. Employment growth was recorded across all counties.
In addition, Enterprise Ireland has invested in infrastructure to support building research and innovation capabilities within regions such as the national network of Technology located in Institutes of Technology through the country. The Agency has also launched four accelerators outside of Dublin to enhance the high potential start-up ecosystem. Located in Galway, Clare and Waterford, these accelerators build on regional sectoral strengths.
The recently published Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) Jobs Results show that 3,700 new jobs were delivered in 2017 by start-ups and small businesses from across the country that have been supported by the LEOs. This brings the total number of new jobs created by LEO-backed companies to 15,000 since the LEOs were set up in 2014. The 31 LEOs located in every county in Ireland continue to play a vital role in providing advice and guidance, financial assistance and other supports to those wishing to start or grow their own businesses.
I look forward to continuing to work closely with the Implementation Committees of the eight Regional Action Plans for Jobs, and the enterprise agencies to continue to build on the excellent work they have carried out to date, with a focus on delivering on the employment targets set out for 2020.