Since my appointment as Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, I have made regional development, enterprise and sustainable jobs growth my top priorities. I am pleased that we are making progress across all regions, including Sligo and the North West region.
The Regional Enterprise Plans are crucial in meeting the Government's ambition to create an additional 200,00 jobs, of which 135,000 are outside the Dublin region, by 2020. The first North-East/North-West Regional Action Plan for Jobs was launched on the 30th November 2015, and the refreshed plans for the North-East and North-West will have separate Regional Enterprise Plans and both of these will launch on the 25th February 2019.
In 2018, Enterprise Ireland supported companies in Sligo employed 1,916 people, a 7% increase on the 2017 employment figure. Enterprise Ireland is actively working with companies with global ambition in Sligo to drive competitiveness, innovation and market diversification.
Through the Regional Enterprise Development Fund, Enterprise Ireland has invested €60 million in 42 projects. Sligo County Enterprise Fund were approved for €1.9m for a development in Strandhill. The project focuses on the development of the Strand Campus to operate as a leading location for entrepreneurs in digital gaming and associated tech sectors, providing holistic support for start-up, innovation and growth.
The €953k funding for the Leitrim Enterprise Food Zone will help develop and incubate food companies across the region including Sligo. State of the art facilities, a network manager and tailored programmes will drive the success and scale of food start-ups in Sligo and Leitrim.
Enterprise Ireland also works with the Institutes of Technology to support entrepreneurship in the regions. There are 7 new companies from Sligo IT completing the Enterprise Ireland New Frontiers Programme at present and it is expected that these will progress to either Enterprise Ireland or the Local Enterprise Offices for further support and development.
The Local Enterprise Office (LEO) in Sligo is the 'first-stop-shop' for providing advice and guidance, financial assistance and other supports if you intend to start or grow a business in the area. Employment in LEO supported firms in Sligo increased 5% in 2017.
IDA Ireland markets County Sligo as part of the North-West region which includes Leitrim and Donegal. I am pleased that all three counties have seen net job gains with FDI employment in the North-West region increasing by 3% between 2017 and 2018.
Sligo is home to a number of prominent multinational companies who have shown a significant level of commitment to the County with companies such as Abbott Ireland, Abbvie and GSK continuing to perform well.
The IDA continues to work hard to highlight the benefits of expanding or locating in Sligo. As part of the pilot phase of its Regional Property Programme in 2016, the IDA constructed an Advanced Technology Building in Sligo and successfully secured Abbott Ireland as a tenant.
As part of Budget 2019, my Department secured an additional €10 million for the Regional Property Programme a further building is planned for Sligo. This Regional Property Programme has supported the creation of hundreds of jobs to date and this is a positive reflection of the IDA’s proactive investment in property solutions in regional locations such as Sligo.