I thank Deputy McLoughlin for putting this question on behalf of Deputy Peter Burke. I congratulate Deputy Burke and his wife Olivia on the birth of their new baby boy. The Deputy was supposed to be in the Chamber for this parliamentary question but I think he deserves the day off. We want to wish them well.
I am committed to delivering on this Government's objective of achieving sustainable economic growth in all regions and to ensuring that all regions achieve their growth and jobs potential. I am leading a range of initiatives in my Department and its agencies to deliver on this commitment, including a review and a refresh of the regional action plan process. The first midlands Regional Action Plan for Jobs was launched in June 2015. Based on a review of achievements to date and future potential that was undertaken by my Department with stakeholders in the midlands region I will launch the first of the refreshed regional enterprise plans on 6 February for the midlands, which covers Laois, Longford, Offaly and Westmeath. The regional enterprise plans are crucial in meeting the Government’s ambition to create an additional 200,000 jobs by 2020, of which 135,000 are outside the Dublin region.
Enterprise Ireland is actively working with companies in counties Longford and Westmeath to help them start and scale, innovate and remain competitive on international markets. In response to Brexit, Enterprise Ireland is building resilience in Irish exporting companies focused on innovation, market diversification and competitiveness, and it is addressing the awareness and preparedness of companies for Brexit.
The Enterprise Ireland agile innovation roadshow in Athlone and Longford, scheduled for 20 March and 10 April respectively, will advise companies on support for researching and developing new products and processes.
Through the regional enterprise development fund, Enterprise Ireland invested €60 million in 42 projects to build capability in key sectors. The projects put forward by Irish Manufacturing Research and the Longford Digital and Technology Hub were successful.
The Leitrim County Enterprise Fund Ltd., which was another successful applicant, is a collaborative project between members of the Upper Shannon Erne Future Economy, which in this case entails the development of a network of three digital and innovation hubs in Leitrim, Cavan and Longford.