Questions Nos. 1 to 12, inclusive, answered orally.

White Collar Crime

Ceisteanna (13)

Mick Wallace

Ceist:

13. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the input her Department has had into the process of drafting legislation to tackle white collar crime; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4680/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Government’s current programme to combat “white collar crime” is set out in the package of “Measures to enhance Ireland’s corporate, economic and regulatory framework”, which was published on 2 November 2017. That package is designed to ensure that Ireland’s reputation as a country with a top tier business environment is underpinned by a robust framework to combat corporate, economic and regulatory offences.  

My Department has lead responsibility for delivery of 4 of the measures, all of which include the preparation of new legislation.

One of the key measures in the Government’s programme is the establishment of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement as an agency that is better equipped to investigate increasingly complex breaches of company law. Giving effect to this decision requires new primary legislation to amend the Companies Act 2014.  Accordingly, a General Scheme of the Companies (Corporate Enforcement Authority) Bill was published on 4 December 2018. That Scheme has been submitted to the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel for drafting and to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Business, Enterprise and Innovation for its consideration for Pre-Legislative Scrutiny. Subject to the outcome of the Joint Committee’s Pre-Legislative Scrutiny, the General Scheme is to be drafted as a priority, with a view to publication this year.

Another measure in the Government’s programme to tackle “white collar crime” is to examine the Company Law Review Group’s Report on Corporate Governance and to bring forward proposals, including for legislative change. My Department reviewed the CLRG’s recommendations last year and, as a result, proposals for legislative change are included in Part 4 of the General Scheme of the Companies (Corporate Enforcement Authority) Bill.  These are intended to clarify certain corporate governance and other issues affecting the administration of company meetings.

The third measure assigned to the Department is the transposition of the Shareholders Rights Directive (Directive 2017/828). This Directive establishes specific requirements to encourage long term shareholder engagement and increase corporate transparency. Draft Regulations to give effect to this commitment were submitted to the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel last November and my Department is engaged with that Office on the drafting and settlement of those Regulations.

Finally, the package of measures includes a commitment to enact the Companies (Statutory Audits) Bill 2017. Again, my Department worked with the Parliamentary Counsel on the preparation of that Bill and the drafting of amendments to enhance the oversight and supervisory powers of the Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority.  The Bill was enacted as the Companies (Statutory Audits) Act 2018 in July 2018 and virtually all sections were commenced in September 2018.

Job Creation

Ceisteanna (14)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

14. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the steps being taken by Enterprise Ireland and the IDA to promote job creation in County Sligo; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4440/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

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.

Brexit Supports

Ceisteanna (15)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

15. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her plans to provide specific assistance to businesses in the Border region in the agri-food construction products and engineering sectors to maintain existing employment due to the difficulties that will arise for such sectors due to Brexit and their dependence on the Northern Ireland and British markets to export products; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4668/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

My Department and its agencies are providing extensive supports, schemes and advice to assist businesses in identifying key risk areas and the practical preparatory actions to be taken over the coming weeks. I am very aware of the specific vulnerabilities of key sectors such as agri-food, construction products and engineering sectors to Brexit, and no more so than in the Border counties.   

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.  

My Department and I have been very active in the 'Getting Ireland Brexit Ready' public information campaign, including a recent event held in Monaghan in October where I was delighted to welcome many businesses from the Border region. Officials from my Department and agencies also participated in the Getting Ireland Brexit Ready event in Letterkenny in Donegal on Friday 30 November last, which included Enterprise Ireland, Industrial Development Authority (IDA), the Local Enterprise Office's (LEOs), National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) and the Health & Safety Authority (HSA).  Last week, the Revenue Commissioners held a seminar in Dundalk. The seminar focused on customs requirements, procedures and operation of the UK landbridge and transit arrangements.  This week the NSAI hosted Brexit information events in Cavan, Monaghan and Sligo and further events are being planned by my Department and agencies. The NSAI plays an important standards and certification function for the construction products and engineering sectors, so these events in the Border area are very beneficial.

Enterprise Ireland has a wide range of supports available and are actively engaged with companies in helping them to prepare. 

As part of Budget 2019, I allocated an additional €1million to InterTradeIreland (ITI). The ITI Brexit Advisory Service provides a focal point for SMEs working to navigate any changes in cross-border trading post-Brexit. ITI also offers a Brexit Start to Plan voucher scheme, worth up to €2,250, for professional advice on preparing for Brexit. 

The LEOs in the Border regions are the first-stop-shop for anyone seeking guidance and support on starting or growing their business and preparing for Brexit. Some 402 LEO clients benefitted from one-to-one Brexit mentoring. I allocated  additional capital funding of €5 million in Budget 2019 to the LEOs to step-up their Brexit preparedness work. 

In addition, the six LEOs in the Border region are working together with their Northern Ireland counterparts under the EU Co-Innovate Programme, to help firms to innovate, differentiate and compete.

In December, I announced Call 2 of the competitive Regional Enterprise Development Fund (REDF). Taking the first and second calls of the REDF together, the Border region has seven successful projects with a total funding allocation of more than €10.6 million.

The €300 million Brexit Loan Scheme provides working capital for up to three years, to eligible businesses to mitigate their Brexit challenges. The Brexit Future Growth Loan Scheme was announced in Budget 2019 and will provide a longer-term facility, 8 to 10 years, of up to €300m to support strategic capital investment for a post-Brexit.

Last week I announced the Enterprise Ireland Annual Results where every region in Ireland recorded increases in employment, including a 9% increase in the North West and a 3% increase in the North East. Over 23,700 of the 215,207 employed in supported companies are in the Border region. Some of the recent EI jobs announcements for the region have included 90 new jobs in E & I Engineering in Donegal and 200 new jobs in Combilift in Co. Monaghan.

EI also recently launched a new Customs online training support to help all businesses understand how customs work.

Work Permits Data

Ceisteanna (16)

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

16. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if professional roles (details supplied) will be added to the critical skills work permit lists in order to meet the skills shortages in the construction sector; the steps being taken to increase the speed at which work permits are being issued; and the number of outstanding work permits in all sectors that remain to be processed. [4569/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

I am very well aware of the skills shortages currently being experienced in the construction sector. The issue is all the more pressing given the strong economic growth being experienced and the high demand being placed on the sector to respond to a range of construction needs across the economy. I have also met with Construction Industry Federation representatives to discuss the labour and skills challenges in the sector.   

The employment permits system is managed through the operation of the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List (HSEOL) and the Ineligible Categories of Employment List (ICEL). These lists are reviewed twice yearly to keep pace with rapid labour market changes and to be proactively identifying and addressing shortages as they arise.  

A review of the occupation lists is being currently being finalised and my officials, in consultation with officials from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, is actively considering the 50 submissions received including a detailed submission from the Construction Industry Federation. I expect, in the very short term, to receive proposals, based on the evidence presented and extensive consultation with the Interdepartmental Group on Economic Migration, for changes to both the ineligible and highly skilled occupational lists. 

It is currently taking 6 weeks to process applications for trusted partners and 15 weeks for standard applications.  My Department is taking steps to improve these processing times. The main reason for the delays is the high levels of demand last year for employment permits, due to our economic success, growing labour market and reduced labour surplus. 

At the end of December some 16,800 applications were received which were approx. 30% higher than 2017. Over the same period some 13,400 permits were granted representing an almost 20% increase over last year. Quarter 4 in 2018 saw the highest number of permits issued in any quarter in the previous 10 years.

There are currently approximately 2,110 permit applications in the processing queue down from a peak of 3,230 in September 2018. Through a combination of increased resources, staff working overtime and ICT and operational improvements, processing times are now at 5 weeks for Trusted Partners, and 15 weeks for standard applications. Further improvements are expected in the coming weeks.

As well as the short-term measures introduced to date, the development of a new IT system is being explored which will take advantage of all the new technologies available, including full digitization.  In parallel with this new development, my Department is determined to continue to reduce processing times and is engaging extensively with stakeholders to ensure that they are fully aware of the situation. 

IDA Ireland Data

Ceisteanna (17)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

17. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of first time investments by new IDA client companies in County Donegal for each of the past ten years; the percentage of the national total of new client investments in each of the years this represents; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4439/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

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.

IDA Ireland Data

Ceisteanna (18)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

18. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the most recent occasion on which the IDA visited counties Cavan, Monaghan and Meath; the number of new jobs that have been created by the IDA in the past 12 months; the steps it is taking to attract companies to the counties; the success it has had with the strategy for the counties; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4431/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

Regional development, not just in the Border area but across Ireland, remains a key priority for me and my Department and its Agencies are focused on strengthening investment and job creation all over the country. 

The recent annual results of the IDA demonstrate that we are making significant strides. In 2018, for example, 56% of all net new jobs created by the Agency were in locations outside Dublin. Similarly, every region in Ireland, including the Border Region, posted net gains in jobs last year. There are now over 132,000 people employed across 681 firms in IDA client companies outside the capital. In fact, 58% of all IDA-supported employment is now outside of Dublin. This represents the highest number of people employed in the regions by IDA clients in the Agency’s history.    

While there were no new foreign direct investment (FDI) supported jobs created in Cavan in 2018, Monaghan experienced an 8% increase in FDI employment, with 12 jobs added by companies in the County.  Similarly, Meath saw a 4.5% increase in IDA supported employment, with the creation of 67 new jobs last year.

With regard to site visits, there were five to County Meath and one each to Counties Cavan and Monaghan in the first three quarters of 2018. Data on the number of site visits for the last three months of year will become available shortly.

While more work remains to be done, the Border region has benefitted from the IDA's regional focus. The area experienced a 3% growth in employment by overseas companies in 2018 and we are already working hard to increase this figure in 2019. As part of that work, the IDA are directly investing in a building programme to help ensure property solutions are in place for overseas companies considering investing or expanding outside our major cities.

As part of Budget 2019, I allocated an additional €10m for the next phase of the IDA Regional Property Programme. I am pleased to inform the Deputy that programme includes plans for an Advanced Technology Unit (ATU) at Knockaconny, County Monaghan. The IDA are currently in the process of procuring a design and delivery team for this facility.

The wider Border region will also benefit, with new buildings planned for Dundalk and Sligo, which I am confident will help generate new opportunities for the wider area.

The Agency has a dedicated regional manager for the North East/North West Region and an office in the Cavan Innovation and Technology Centre. As part of its strategy to promote the area, it is focusing on sectors including agri-food, manufacturing, tourism and internationally traded services. The IDA regularly engages with key stakeholders on the ground in Cavan and Monaghan, including with local authorities, public bodies, the education sector and companies from both its own client base but also from the indigenous sector. County Meath is being actively marketed by the IDA as a location for second sites for multinationals in the Dublin region, with a focus on building clusters in existing sectors like high-value manufacturing and international services.

It is important to emphasise that FDI only forms one part of investment in regional locations. Indigenous enterprise is responsible for a significant portion of employment growth, especially outside Dublin. Both Monaghan and Cavan have seen promising growth in the numbers employed in Enterprise Ireland-backed firms, with increases of 5% and 6% respectively. County Meath has seen a 4% increase in EI-backed businesses. The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) are also performing well, with net increases of 100 jobs, 142 jobs and 162 jobs in LEO-supported companies in Cavan, Monaghan and Meath respectively in 2017.

Another example of the success of this Government's strategy for regional job creation is Combilift's new €50 million Research & Development and Testing Centre in County Monaghan. This new investment will create 200 jobs and represents a home-grown success story. The positive impact that Combilift has on the county and the border area cannot be underestimated.     

We recognise that there is room for improvement in Cavan, Monaghan and Meath and we are working hard, across Government, to further unlock the economic potential of these counties. The Enterprise Agencies under my remit will continue to engage with their clients, and with one another, to create jobs and source new investment in 2019.

Research Funding

Ceisteanna (19)

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

19. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her views on the findings by the EU Research and Innovation Observatory (details supplied) that Ireland is below the European average for research and development spending; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4565/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

Ireland has developed a reputation for excellence in R&D. Overall expenditure on R&D in Ireland has been increasing steadily since 2012 and is estimated to have reached almost €3.4 billion in 2017, the highest figure on record.

In 2011, under the European Commission’s Europe 2020 agenda, Ireland committed to raise gross investment in R&D to 2.5% of GNP by 2020. We reiterated this commitment as one of our key measurements in Innovation 2020.

The details supplied by the Deputy are based on recent figures published by Eurostat. The Gross Expenditure on R&D as a percentage of GDP intensity rate of 1.05% of GDP for 2017 is calculated using preliminary figures for Business Expenditure on R&D and Higher Education Expenditure on R&D. Updated surveys on both are due to be published later this year from the CSO and my Department respectively and will give the full picture on R&D expenditure for 2017. It should be noted that the Eurostat report uses GDP rather than GNP as the basis for comparison across the EU. Our current estimate for R&D investment in 2017 is 1.46% of GNP, as per my Department’s latest R&D Budget publication.

It is important to acknowledge that Ireland continues to perform well in international studies – we rose to 9th in the 2018 European Innovation Scoreboard. In the European Innovation Scoreboard 2018, Ireland remains in the category of “Strong Innovator” and has moved up a place to 9th in the EU. Ireland is placed first in three out of the ten dimensions considered - innovative SMEs, employment in knowledge-intensive activities and sales due to innovation activities. Ireland is ranked higher than 12 other member states that invest a higher amount of public funds as a percentage of GDP.

Ireland has also retained 10th place in the Global Innovation Index, out of 126 countries assessed.

Brexit Preparations

Ceisteanna (20)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

20. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the steps she will take to assist companies in the Border counties to be prepared for Brexit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4437/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

My Department and its agencies are providing extensive supports, schemes and advice to assist businesses in identifying key risk areas and the practical preparatory actions to be taken over the coming weeks. We are working in all regions, no more so than in the Border counties where there are very specific vulnerabilities due to the integrated nature of business supply chains, labour markets and day-to-day commerce.

As part of the Government's overall Brexit information outreach, my Department and I have been very active in the 'Getting Ireland Brexit Ready' public information campaign, including in Monaghan in October and in Letterkenny in November last. Revenue held a customs seminar in Dundalk last week. This week the NSAI is hosting Brexit events in Cavan, Monaghan and Sligo and further events are in planning by my Department and agencies.

As part of Budget 2019, I allocated an additional €1million to InterTradeIreland (ITI). The ITI Brexit Advisory Service provides a focal point for SMEs working to navigate any changes in cross-border trading post-Brexit. ITI also offers a Brexit Start to Plan voucher scheme, worth up to €2,250, for professional advice on preparing for Brexit. 

The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) in the Border Regions are the first-stop-shop for anyone seeking guidance and support on starting or growing their business and preparing for Brexit. To date, 402 LEO clients have received one-to-one Brexit mentoring. I allocated an additional capital funding of €5 million in Budget 2019 to the LEOs to step-up their Brexit preparedness work. 

In addition, the six LEOs in the Border region are working together with their Northern Ireland counterparts under the EU Co-Innovate Programme, to help firms to innovate, differentiate and compete.

In December, I announced Call 2 of the competitive Regional Enterprise Development Fund (REDF). Taking the first and second calls of the REDF together, the Border Region had seven successful projects with a total funding allocation of more than €10.6 million.

I will also shortly be launching the refresh of the North-West and the North-East Action Plans for Jobs and Brexit will be an ongoing priority area for both Committees.

The €300 million Brexit Loan Scheme provides working capital for up to three years, to eligible businesses to adapt to mitigate their Brexit challenges. The Brexit Future Growth Loan Scheme was announced in Budget 2019 and will provide a longer-term facility, 8 to 10 years, of up to €300m to support strategic capital investment for a post-Brexit.

Last week I announced the Enterprise Ireland (EI) Annual Results where every region in Ireland recorded increases in employment, including a 9% increase in the North West and a 3% increase in the North East. Over 23,700 of employment in EI clients of 215,207 are in the Border region. Some of the recent EI jobs announcements for the region have included 90 new jobs in E & I Engineering in Donegal and 200 new jobs in Combilift in Co. Monaghan.

EI also recently launched a new Customs online training support to help all businesses understand how customs work.  

Last week I met with European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager and she assured me the Commission stands ready to work with us to support Brexit viable but vulnerable firms.   

With Brexit around the corner, I want businesses, particularly those around the Border counties to know my Department and agencies are here to help.

Foreign Direct Investment

Ceisteanna (21)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

21. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the way in which the worldwide decline in foreign direct investment in 2018 is impacting Ireland; if the figure of a fall of €106 billion for Ireland in 2018 published by the UN Conference on Trade and Development is accurate; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4669/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The reduction in foreign direct investment (FDI) referenced in last year's UNCTAD report relates to the movement of cash assets following the enactment of the US Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in late 2017. While I understand some US firms in Ireland have repatriated such financial resources since that legislation came into force, there has been little discernible impact on their actual operations here.

I understand that the figure referred to of €106 billion represents only a preliminary estimate. Finalised figures from UNCTAD will be made available later in the year.

I am confident, despite recent changes to the American taxation system, that US and international firms will continue to locate or expand further in Ireland. Our strengths – including our pro-enterprise policy environment, highly-educated workforce and competitive taxation regime – remain attractive to international investors. Indeed, the IDA’s record results for 2018 reflect an active and healthy pipeline of investment into the country. The Agency, for example, secured 265 investments for 2018 compared with 237 for 2017. Total employment in IDA client firms now stands at approximately 230,000.

Despite these positive FDI trends, the Government is focused on our need to remain as competitive as possible. A new five-year strategy for IDA Ireland, for example, will be prepared this year to ensure the Agency remains able to compete for, and secure, more first-rate investment projects and to meet other challenges ahead. The Government will also continue working to make sure that Ireland remains a favoured destination for high-quality and job-rich investment projects.

Brexit Supports

Ceisteanna (22)

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

22. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the uptake in the various schemes offered to allow businesses to prepare for Brexit; her views on whether SMEs in County Cork are adequately prepared for Brexit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4689/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

My Department and its agencies are working to provide extensive supports, schemes and advice to ensure that businesses are prepared for Brexit. These measures aim to assist businesses in Cork and across the Country in identifying key risk areas and the practical preparatory actions to be taken over the coming weeks.

The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs), including LEOs in Cork, are the first-stop-shop for anyone seeking guidance and support on starting or growing their business. 471 LEO clients have received one-to-one mentoring solely focused on Brexit.

The LEOs engage in a number of other schemes to help companies prepare for Brexit. Technical Assistance Grants for Micro Export are offered as an incentive for LEO clients to explore and develop new market opportunities. Also, additional capital funding of €5 million was announced in Budget 2019 for local enterprise development.

In addition, both South and North Cork LEOs have organised Brexit Proof Your Business workshops in November 2018. This workshop was designed to bring into sharp perspective what Brexit may mean for SMEs.

The InterTrade Ireland Brexit Advisory Service provides a focal point for SMEs working to navigate any changes in cross-border trading relationships arising as a result of Brexit. As part of the service, ITI has organized awareness events focused on improving knowledge of customs processes and procedures.

ITI also offers a Brexit Start to Plan voucher scheme, which enables businesses to get professional advice on how best to plan and prepare for the UK's withdrawal from the European Union.

In April 2017, I met with all the Regional Action Plan for Jobs Implementation Committees, including from the South West and asked that they undertake a refresh and refocus of their Plans to ensure relevance and impact out to 2020. I will be launching the refreshed South West Plan over the coming weeks and I am confident it will contribute to ensuring we continue to deliver jobs and address the challenges we face in building potential, including Brexit.

Enterprise Ireland has established a Prepare for Brexit online portal and communications campaign, as well as an online “Brexit SME Scorecard” to help Irish businesses self-asses their exposure to Brexit and a “Be Prepared Grant” to support SME clients in planning to mitigate risks arising from Brexit. It has also launched a new Eurozone Strategy to help SMEs broaden their export footprint beyond the UK.  EI has also hosted a Brexit Advisory Clinic in Cork in April 2018.

EI also recently launched a new Customs Insights Online course which is a new online training support to help all businesses understand how customs work including the documentation and process required to operate and succeed post Brexit.

The €300 million Brexit Loan Scheme provides relatively short term working capital, 1-3 years, to eligible businesses with up to 499 employees to help them innovate, change or adapt to mitigate their Brexit challenges. 

The scheme was launched in March 2018 and, as at close of business on 18th January, there have been 376 eligibility applications received of which 337 eligibility applications have been approved and 65 loans progressed to sanction at Bank level to a value of €14.9m. SMEs in County Cork account for 9% of approvals. 

The Future Growth Loan Scheme was announced in Budget 2019. The scheme will provide a longer-term facility, 8 to 10 years, of up to €300m to support strategic capital investment for a post-Brexit environment by business at competitive rates. Loans of €50,000 to €3m will be available to eligible Irish businesses, including those in the primary agriculture and seafood sectors, to support strategic, long-term investment in a post-Brexit environment. It is expected that this Scheme will be launched by end Q1 2019.

My Department and I have been very active in the 'Getting Ireland Brexit Ready' public information campaign. Officials from my Department and agencies also participated in the Getting Ireland Brexit Ready event in Cork on Friday 5 October last, which included Enterprise Ireland, IDA, the LEOs, NSAI and the HSA.

We are providing extensive supports, schemes and advice to ensure that businesses are prepared for any Brexit scenario, with Brexit around the corner, I want businesses to know my Department and agencies are here to help.

Brexit Preparations

Ceisteanna (23)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

23. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the monitoring her Department is undertaking of the Brexit readiness of businesses here; the percentage of businesses she expects to be prepared for Brexit; if there is a regional difference in preparedness arrangements being made by exporting businesses to maintain trading links with the 26 EU partners after 29 March 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4430/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

Since the June 2016 decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, my Department and its agencies have worked to put a wide range of Brexit supports in place for businesses. The package of Brexit supports encompasses finance, advisory and awareness.  My Department's focus is on helping firms to improve their competitiveness and innovation, and to diversify markets.

My Department and its agencies are working to provide extensive supports, schemes and advice to ensure that businesses are prepared for Brexit. The suite of enterprise and finance supports now in place covers the spectrum of potential Brexit impacts and aims to assist businesses in identifying key risk areas and the practical preparatory actions to be taken over the coming weeks.

Enterprise Ireland has established a Prepare for Brexit online portal and communications campaign, as well as an online “Brexit SME Scorecard” to help Irish businesses self-asses their exposure to Brexit and a “Be Prepared Grant” to support SME clients in planning to mitigate risks arising from Brexit. It has also launched a new Eurozone Strategy to help SMEs broaden their export footprint beyond the UK.

Over 3,700 business have used Enterprise Ireland’s Brexit Scorecard to date and 85% of EI client firms are now taking actions to prepare for Brexit. EI has also hosted 11 Brexit Advisory Clinics.

In addition, eligible EI client companies can respond to the threats and opportunities posed by Brexit by accessing the Agile Innovation Fund.  This fund supports clients to quickly develop innovations and respond to opportunities and threats in new and existing markets. The new Fund allows companies to access up to 50% in support of innovation projects with a total cost of up to €300,000. A recent EI survey showed that EI clients that have availed of Innovation Capability, Funding and Collaboration support saw a 67% increase in global sales.

EI also recently launched a new Customs Insights Online course which is a new online training support to help all businesses understand how customs work including the documentation and process required to operate and succeed post Brexit. The Customs Insights course explains in clear and simple terms the main customs rules and included the key actions companies can take to prepare for customs after Brexit and the options from Revenue that are available to make the customs process more efficient. This will be available for any company to use whether they are importers or exporters and also whether they are agency clients or not.

In December, I announced a further €30 million in funding for successful projects under Call 2 of the competitive Regional Enterprise Development Fund (REDF). In order to help build the enterprise capability, under the REDF, I am particularly pleased that a number of new projects were successful from the Border counties, which are likely to more impacted by Brexit. EI is investing in seven successful REDF projects in the Border region with a total funding allocation of more than €10.6 million. This funding will drive enterprise development and job creation in the Border Region.

InterTradeIreland (ITI) works with SMEs on an all-Ireland basis and is particularly well-placed, given its remit to develop cross-border trade, to help SMEs prepare for the particular North-South challenges associated with Brexit.

The ITI Brexit Advisory Service provides a focal point for SMEs working to navigate any changes in cross-border trading relationships arising as a result of Brexit. As part of the service, ITI has organised a series of awareness events focused on improving knowledge of customs processes and procedures and identifying actions that can be taken in areas such as logistics and supply chain management. To date, more than 4,000 SMEs have directly engaged with the ITI Brexit Advisory Service.

ITI also offers a Brexit Start to Plan voucher scheme, which enables businesses to get professional advice on how best to plan and prepare for the UK's withdrawal from the European Union. This support helps businesses obtain advice on specific areas such as tariffs, currency management, regulatory and customs issues and movement of labour, goods and services. ITI vouchers are worth up to €2,250 (inclusive of VAT) each. Companies are finding the vouchers very useful and there has been strong demand which can be attributed to the media campaign conducted by ITI across a range of platforms.  As of its most recent report and the end of November 2018, 811 businesses have applied for a Brexit Start to Plan voucher, of which 657 have been approved.

The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) are the first-stop-shop for anyone seeking guidance and support on starting or growing their business. The LEOs have organised various events in every county to enable companies to learn about the potential impacts and opportunities of Brexit. In addition, 402 LEO clients have received one-to-one mentoring solely focused on Brexit.

The LEOs engage in a number of other schemes to help companies prepare for Brexit. Technical Assistance Grants for Micro Export are offered as an incentive for LEO clients to explore and develop new market opportunities. Also, additional capital funding of €5 million was announced in Budget 2019 for local enterprise development.

In addition, the six LEOs in the Border region are working together with their Northern Ireland counterparts under the EU Co-Innovate Programme. The aim of Co-Innovate is to give SMEs from the manufacturing and tradable services sectors in the eligible regions the tools and tailored support to help them to innovate, differentiate and compete successfully.

In April 2017, I asked all the Regional Action Plan for Jobs Implementation Committees to start a process to refresh and refocus all Regional Plans to ensure their relevance and impact out to 2020. This will ensure that the Plans remain effective and that they continue to deliver jobs across the country, in all regions, and can be robust in addressing the challenges we face, including Brexit. As a result, both the North-West and the North-East will both have their own plans in the new iteration and Brexit will be an ongoing priority area for both Committees. These plans are being finalised and will be published in February.

The €300 million Brexit Loan Scheme provides relatively short term working capital, 1-3 years, to eligible businesses with up to 499 employees to help them innovate, change or adapt to mitigate their Brexit challenges.  The scheme is open to eligible businesses from all regions of the country, including those in the Border counties.  Businesses can confirm their eligibility with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) and if deemed eligible, can apply to one of the participating finance providers for a loan under the scheme.

The scheme was launched in March 2018 and, as at close of business on 18th January, there have been 376 eligibility applications received of which 337 eligibility applications have been approved and 65 loans progressed to sanction at Bank level to a value of €14.9m.  Brexit impacted exporters account for almost 50% of approvals while manufacturing accounts for 38% of approvals and 20% of approved applications relate to investments in new products or markets.

The Future Growth Loan Scheme was announced in Budget 2019. The scheme will provide a longer-term facility, 8 to 10 years, of up to €300m to support strategic capital investment for a post-Brexit environment by business at competitive rates. This is jointly funded by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Loans of €50,000 to €3m will be available, with loans of under €500,000 being provided on an unsecured basis. The scheme will be available to eligible Irish businesses, including those in the primary agriculture and seafood sectors, to support strategic, long-term investment in a post-Brexit environment.  The SBCI has issued an “Open Call” for financial institutions to apply by 11 February 2019 for designation as a lending partner under the Scheme. It is expected that this Scheme will be operational in early 2019.

The majority of the above schemes are open to all SMEs, not just agency clients. My Department and its agencies will continue to engage with its clients to ensure they have the supports required to prepare for any kind of Brexit.

While I have seen a very positive uptake of the supports available, not everyone is engaging. With Brexit around the corner, I want businesses, particularly those around the Border counties to know my Department and agencies are here to help. My Department and its agencies are providing extensive supports, schemes and advice to ensure that businesses are prepared for any Brexit scenario.

Ministerial Meetings

Ceisteanna (24)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

24. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if she will report on her meeting with the EU Commissioner for Competition; the discussions she had regarding state aid rules and the way in which they will affect the ability to assist companies that are negatively impacted by Brexit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4589/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

My meeting with Commissioner Vestager was a welcome opportunity to discuss  the severe challenges that Irish businesses, both SMEs and large firms, will face when the UK leaves the European Union and the need for appropriate and timely State supports.

The Commissioner acknowledged the high exposure of Irish businesses to the UK market and she assured me that the necessary resources at Commission level will be available to facilitate a swift response if urgent action is required by the Irish Government.

The Commissioner recognized the substantial engagement by officials of the Irish government and the Commission in the Technical Working Group which she established in 2017 to scope and design schemes to support enterprises impacted by Brexit, within State aid rules.  Through the mechanism of the Technical Working Group Ireland has fully utilised the provisions of the State aid framework to enable the investment by Enterprise Ireland of €74 million in Brexit impacted businesses in 2018.

It was agreed that Irish officials will continue to work closely with the Commissioner’s team in addressing any State aid issues that may arise to ensure a rapid and appropriate response as the ultimate shape of Brexit and its firm-level implications become known. The Commissioner emphasised that the Commission stands ready to act urgently in mitigation against the impacts of Brexit on Irish firms.

Brexit Supports

Ceisteanna (25)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

25. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the status of the uptake of the Brexit business supports to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4672/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

My Department and its agencies are working to provide extensive supports, schemes and advice to ensure that businesses are prepared for Brexit. These measures aim to assist businesses in identifying key risk areas and the practical preparatory actions to be taken over the coming weeks.

I made Brexit one of my top priorities in the allocations of funding for 2019 in my Department and I have allocated further funding to Brexit-related support from agencies and offices of my Department as part of Budget 2019. I have allocated an additional €5 million capital funding to the Local Enterprise Offices, an increase of 22% for 2019, and a further €1 million allocated to InterTrade Ireland. ITI works with SMEs on an all-Ireland basis and is particularly well-placed, given its remit, to develop cross-border trade, to help SMEs prepare for the particular North-South challenges associated with Brexit.. I have allocated an additional €3m to Enterprise Ireland and €2m to IDA Ireland to expand their global footprints and drive the diversification of trade and investment. Additional resources have also been distributed across Science Foundation Ireland and the Health and Safety Authority and the NSAI for 2019 to support enterprises adjust to the new relationships with the UK and pursue new opportunities.

 Informed by detailed research, my Department has put in place a package of measures in response to the needs of businesses affected by Brexit-related uncertainty.

Enterprise Ireland has established a Prepare for Brexit online portal and communications campaign, as well as an online “Brexit SME Scorecard” to help Irish businesses self-asses their exposure to Brexit and a “Be Prepared Grant” to support SME clients in planning to mitigate risks arising from Brexit. It has also launched a new Eurozone Strategy to help SMEs broaden their export footprint beyond the UK.

Over 3,900 business have used Enterprise Ireland’s Brexit Scorecard to date and 85% of EI client firms are now taking actions. EI is working closely with regionally-important larger companies in exposed sectors such as food to support strategic investments to build resilience – EI invested €74 million in these businesses in 2018.

EI also recently launched a new Customs Insights Online course which is a new online training support to help all businesses understand how customs work including the documentation and process required to operate and succeed post Brexit. The Customs Insights course explains in clear and simple terms the main customs rules and included the key actions companies can take to prepare for customs after Brexit and the options from Revenue that are available to make the customs process more efficient. This will be available for any company to use whether they are importers or exporters and also whether they are agency clients or not.  

Enterprise Ireland will continue to engage with its clients to ensure they have the supports required to prepare for any kind of Brexit.

The ITI Brexit Advisory Service provides a focal point for SMEs working to navigate any changes in cross-border trading relationships arising as a result of Brexit. As part of the service, ITI has organised a series of awareness events focused on improving knowledge of customs processes and procedures and identifying actions that can be taken in areas such as logistics and supply chain management. To date, more than 4,000 SMEs have directly engaged with the Brexit Advisory Service.

ITI also offers a Brexit Start to Plan voucher scheme, which enables businesses to get professional advice on how best to plan and prepare for the UK's withdrawal from the European Union. This support helps businesses obtain advice on specific areas such as tariffs, currency management, regulatory and customs issues and movement of labour, goods and services. ITI vouchers are worth up to €2,250 (inclusive of VAT) each. Companies are finding the vouchers very useful and there has been strong demand which can be attributed to the media campaign conducted by ITI across a range of platforms.

The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) are the first-stop-shop for anyone seeking guidance and support on starting or growing their business. The LEOs have organised various events to enable companies to learn about the potential impacts and opportunities of Brexit. In addition, 471 LEO clients have received one-to-one mentoring solely focused on Brexit.

The LEOs engage in a number of other schemes to help companies prepare for Brexit. Technical Assistance Grants for Micro Export are offered as an incentive for LEO clients to explore and develop new market opportunities, as of 18 January 2018, 419 LEO clients were approved assistance under the grant. Also, additional capital funding of €5 million was announced in Budget 2019 for local enterprise development.

In addition, the six LEOs in the Border region are working together with their Northern Ireland counterparts under the EU Co-Innovate Programme. The aim of Co-Innovate is to give SMEs from the manufacturing and tradable services sectors in the eligible regions the tools and tailored support to help them to innovate, differentiate and compete successfully.

In December, I announced a further €30 million in funding for successful projects under Call 2 of the competitive Regional Enterprise Development Fund (REDF).

In April 2017, I asked all the Regional Action Plan for Jobs Implementation Committees to start a process to refresh and refocus all Regional Plans to ensure their relevance and impact out to 2020. This will ensure that the Plans remain effective and that they continue to deliver jobs across the country, in all regions, and can be robust in addressing the challenges we face, including Brexit. As a result, both the North-West and the North-East will both have their own plans in the new iteration and Brexit will be an ongoing priority area for both Committees. These plans are being finalised and will be published in February.

The €300 million Brexit Loan Scheme provides relatively short term working capital, 1-3 years, to eligible businesses with up to 499 employees to help them innovate, change or adapt to mitigate their Brexit challenges.  The scheme is open to eligible businesses from all regions of the country, including those in the Border counties.  Businesses can confirm their eligibility with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) and if deemed eligible, can apply to one of the participating finance providers for a loan under the scheme.

The scheme was launched in March 2018 and, as at close of business on 18th January, there have been 376 eligibility applications received of which 337 eligibility applications have been approved and 65 loans progressed to sanction at Bank level to a value of €14.9m.

The Future Growth Loan Scheme was announced in Budget 2019. The scheme will provide a longer-term facility, 8 to 10 years, of up to €300m to support strategic capital investment for a post-Brexit environment by business at competitive rates. This is jointly funded by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Loans of €50,000 to €3m will be available, with loans of under €500,000 being provided on an unsecured basis. The scheme will be available to eligible Irish businesses, including those in the primary agriculture and seafood sectors, to support strategic, long-term investment in a post-Brexit environment.  The SBCI has issued an “Open Call” for financial institutions to apply by 11 February 2019 for designation as a lending partner under the Scheme. It is expected that this Scheme will be operational in early 2019.

My Department and I have been very active in the 'Getting Ireland Brexit Ready' public information campaign. This campaign includes workshop events throughout the country aimed primarily at business and people most impacted by Brexit. A ‘Getting Ireland Brexit Ready’ event was recently held in Monaghan in October and I was delighted to welcome many businesses from the Border Region. Officials from my Department and agencies also participated in the Getting Ireland Brexit Ready event in Letterkenny in Donegal on Friday 30 November last, which included Enterprise Ireland, IDA, the LEOs, NSAI and the HSA.

While I have seen a very positive uptake of the supports available, not everyone is engaging. With Brexit around the corner, I want businesses, particularly those around the Border counties to know my Department and agencies are here to help. My Department and its agencies are providing extensive supports, schemes and advice to ensure that businesses are prepared for any Brexit scenario.

Regional Development

Ceisteanna (26)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

26. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her views on whether the EU regional aid status of Kells and north County Meath granted in 2014 has had a positive impact in terms of local investment or incentives and grants to encourage employers to locate in the area; her views on whether enough has been done to promote Kells and north County Meath as a location for investment and business development; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4432/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

Regional development remains an absolute priority of mine. I am focused on both supporting and sustaining existing employment levels in regional Ireland while also working to create new economic opportunities and jobs in every county of Ireland. I am pleased to say that total employment in IDA Ireland's client companies now stands at 229,057, with 58% of all IDA employment outside of Dublin. This represents the highest number of people employed by IDA clients outside of Dublin in the history of the Agency.

The IDA regularly engages with key stakeholders on the ground in Counties Kildare and Meath including with local authorities, public bodies, the education sector and companies from both its own client base but also from the indigenous sector. The Agency also owns sites in both counties that are actively marketed to its clients through its network of offices in Ireland and overseas. I am confident that the ongoing work by the IDA in the region will lead to more investment and job creation for the wider area in due course.  

Meath has seen a 4% increase in foreign direct investment (FDI) employment in the last year. There are now 19 IDA-supported client companies in the County employing 1,632 people. Meath continues to maintain a strong contingent of overseas firms in the Financial Services, Manufacturing and Biotechnology sectors with key clients such as ArcRoyal, International Fund Services and Alltech performing well in the County.  The client base there shows that the area remains an attractive destination for FDI and overseas firms.

IDA client companies in County Kildare collectively employ 8,838 people, representing an increase of 4.5% over the previous year. The County is home to overseas firms in the Technology, Financial Services and Pharmaceuticals sectors.  IDA clients such as Intel, Pfizer, and Procter and Gamble are all located in Kildare and continue to perform well.

Job Creation

Ceisteanna (27)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

27. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the steps she is taking to promote job creation in the mid-east region, including County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4550/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

As set out in the Programme for a Partnership Government, enterprise development and job creation in the regions of Ireland is a key policy priority of this Government. In that context, since becoming Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, I have made regional development my top priority. 

We want to have a situation where all regions are enabled to realise their potential as contributors to economic recovery and growth, and thereby reduce regional disparities.

For the State as a whole, since the launch of the Regional Action Plans for Jobs (RAPJ), over the period Q1 2015 to Q3 2018, there has been an increase of 258,800 people in employment, with 163,500 of these located in the regions outside Co. Dublin – that is 3 out of every 5 jobs created.

We remain committed to achieving an overall jobs uplift of between 10 and 15 percent in each region by 2020 and to bring and/or maintain unemployment levels in each region to within at least one percentage point of the State average.

Latest CSO Labour Force Survey figures available at regional level show that the Mid East is performing very strongly and that the unemployment rate in the Region is currently at 5.8% as of Q3 2018, just below the State unemployment rate of 6.0%. 

Since my Department's Regional Action Plan for Jobs (RAPJ) initiative commenced, employment in the region has grown by 10.9% from Q1 2015 to Q3 2018. There are 32,200 more people in employment in the region from Q1 2015 to Q3 2018. 

In April 2018, I asked the RAPJ Implementation Committees, including in the Mid East, to refresh and refocus their Plans to ensure their relevance and impact out to 2020, especially in the face of current challenges, including Brexit. I expect to launch the new refreshed Regional Enterprise Plan for the Mid East in February.

Enterprise Ireland continues to work to contribute to employment and economic growth throughout all regions. Under its Build Scale, Expand Reach 2017 – 2020 Strategy the Agency aims to create 60,000 new jobs, while sustaining existing ones, which will make an important contribution to jobs and economic growth across all regions.

Enterprise Ireland’s Strategy places the regions at the core of economic growth in Ireland and is founded on four core objectives:

- To maximise growth of Enterprise Ireland clients in the regions.

- To strengthen Regional Infrastructure to maximise future growth of Irish Enterprise in the Regions

- To support Entrepreneurship in the Regions

- Work in collaboration to deliver Regional Growth

As at December 2018, 8,923 people are now employed by Kildare companies supported by Enterprise Ireland. Employment in Enterprise Ireland supported companies in the county has grown by more than 3,900 or 78 percent over the past decade.

The LEOs operating under the auspices of the Local Authorities and EI in every county, including Co. Kildare, 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 business. Companies supported by the LEOs in the Mid East (including Louth, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow) collectively employ over 3,700 (latest available data is for 2017) in 775 companies. LEO supported employment grew by a total of 480 (net) in the Mid East in the year to end 2017. In Co. Kildare, 171 LEO supported companies employ 967 people, up by a total of 128 in the year to end 2017.

IDA meanwhile will continue to target a minimum increase in investment of 30% to 40% in each region outside Dublin under their Winning strategy to 2019. IDA supported companies in the Mid East region employ 13,088 people, an increase of 841 over 2017.

There are 29 IDA supported client companies in County Kildare, which as of 2018, collectively employ 8,838 people - representing an increase of 4.5% over 2017. The County has a strong contingent of overseas firms in the Technology, Financial Services and Pharmaceuticals sectors.  IDA clients such as Intel, Pfizer, and Procter and Gamble are all located in Kildare and continue to perform well.  

I very much welcome INIT’s  recent decision to locate their first operation outside of Germany in Kildare. In November 2018, the firm announced their plans to create a software development centre in Maynooth which will result in the creation of an additional 20 highly skilled jobs. This high-calibre investment reflects Kildare's significant potential and we will be working hard to attract further investment from overseas firms to the County.   

My Department's €60 million Regional Enterprise Development Fund (REDF), administered by Enterprise Ireland, is aimed at accelerating economic recovery in all regions of the country by delivering on the potential of local and regional enterprise strengths. The Fund supports significant collaborative and innovative regional initiatives to build on specific industry sectoral strengths and improve enterprise capability, thereby driving job creation.

In early December last, under the second call of the REDF, I announced an allocation of just over €29 million in funding to support 21 projects from all over the country. This is in addition to the over €30 million in funding under Call 1 of the REDF that I announced in December 2017 that also funded 21 projects. Over the first and second calls under REDF, the Mid East Region secured funding of almost €3.5 million across 2 projects.

1. County Kildare Community Network Company: Mid-East Regional Innovation Think Space (MERITS) is a new build project to cluster Irish and international new-technology companies and provide mentorship and support, based in Naas County Kildare.

2. Boyne Valley Food Innovation District (BVID): based in Navan, Co. Meath, BVID will deliver smart specialisation through an innovation-rich building and stimulus project for the Mid and North East regions which will empower food and drink entrepreneurs, escalate their growth and provide the economic, physical, and networking assets, aiming to create up to 250 new jobs, 50 new and expanding food businesses, 200 new/improved food and drink products, €25m per annum in new export sales, 900 entrepreneurs and learners with increased competencies, and 60 interns delivering fresh talent and innovation.

Local Enterprise Offices Data

Ceisteanna (28)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

28. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the county specific targets on job creation mandated for local enterprise offices in County Galway; the number of local enterprise supported jobs created to date in 2018; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51855/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Local Enterprise Office Galway is the ‘first-stop-shop’ for providing advice and guidance, financial assistance and other supports to those wishing to start or grow their own businesses in that area.

In 2017 the LEO Galway supported 1039 jobs in 254 client companies. They created 192 new jobs with a net increase of 95 jobs.

Please note that the 2018 LEO performance outcomes will not be known until completion of the annual employment survey of LEO clients in Q1 2018.