Regional development remains an absolute priority of mine. I am focused on both supporting and sustaining current regional employers and working to create new economic and job opportunities across the country. The recent performance of IDA Ireland, the State Agency tasked with promoting inward investment into Ireland, demonstrates the progress we are making in this context. By the end of last year, total employment in the IDA’s client companies stood at 229,057, the highest on record. Every region in Ireland has seen foreign direct investment (FDI) employment gains and there are now over 132,000 people employed across 681 firms in IDA client companies located outside of Dublin. I am determined, together with the IDA, to see this trend continue and we will be doing everything possible in 2019 to encourage more firms to invest further in the regions.
Donegal has benefitted from this strong regional focus. The County has experienced a 60% increase in FDI-driven employment since 2012, with job numbers in IDA client firms there increasing from 2,223 in 2012 to 3,564 at the end of last year. In 2018 alone, the total of IDA supported jobs in Donegal increased by 5%, with the County now home to 12 IDA companies including SITA, Optibelt and Pramerica.
As regards new-name investors, the general trend is reasonably positive especially in the context of the strong performance of the IDA clients already located in Donegal. There was 1 new name investment in 2009 in Donegal representing 2.5% of the national total in that year. In 2010 there were no new name investments in the County. In 2011 there was one new investment out of a total of 61 such investments nationally, giving a percentage of 1.6% of national new name investment. In 2012 there was also one new investment in Donegal out of 65 nationally, which is 1.5% of the total figure. Between 2013 and 2018 there has been no new name investments in County Donegal. Those statistics, however, only serve to emphasise that FDI performance is not accurately measured by the number of new-name investors, given Donegal’s strong performance – as outlined above – over the last decade.
With respect to the year ahead, the indications are that FDI in Donegal will continue to increase. For example, Abbott Laboratories announced plans last July to expand its workforce in the County with the creation of 500 new jobs. The IDA is already working hard to attract further such high-quality investment to Donegal, thereby creating more jobs and economic opportunities for the region.
More broadly, the Agency are also directly investing, through their regional property programme, in property solutions to attract more FDI to regional Ireland. This programme has a particular focus on the Border and Midlands regions. Three buildings are planned for the Border area and I am confident, once completed, that they will help attract further overseas firms to the region
While clear progress has been made in creating new jobs and economic opportunity in Donegal, the Government is determined to achieve more. We will continue working hard in 2019, whether in support of indigenous or overseas enterprise, to help create more employment for the County.