Both the Minister and I have met the Deputy on many occasions. In April 2018 the Department asked 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 up to 2020 in order that we could continue to deliver jobs across the country in every region and be robust in addressing the challenges we faced, including trade wars and Brexit. The outcome of the refresh process is nine new regional enterprise plans to 2020 which have been built on the very strong progress made in employment creation under the regional Action Plan for Jobs 2015 to 2017. We are launching the new plans, with eight already launched.
County Carlow is part of the south-east region which has been included in the regional enterprise plan to 2020 for the south east which will be launched in March. The regional enterprise plan for the south east will be focused on a number of strategic objectives, each of which will involve a focus on County Carlow as part of the south-east region. Objectives for the south east will include putting a focus on enhancing the existing environment for enterprise activity and company growth and building regional economic resilience; effective marketing of the region as a place of choice for talent and investment; developing skills and talent in the region; and regional place-making. The strategic objectives and actions included in the south-east plan will be set out, with the core objectives of the enterprise agencies and the local enterprise offices in County Carlow and the wider region. In this way, the plan will add value and support the work of the agencies on the ground in the south east through a collaborative approach.
It is encouraging that the unemployment rate in the south-east region which includes county Carlow, with counties Kilkenny, Wexford and Waterford, reduced from 11.7% in quarter one of 2015 to 7.7% in quarter four of 2018.
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The focus for County Carlow and the south east in the period to 2020 under the new regional enterprise plan will be to maintain an emphasis on employment growth, aiming to outperform the rate of growth achieved since 2015 to date, and to ensure sustainable, quality jobs will be created and maintained the region. The aim will also be to reduce the regional unemployment rate to within 1% of the State average by 2020.
It is important to note that the Government has put several funding streams in place to support regional development, including my Department's regional enterprise development fund; the rural and urban regeneration and development funds under Project Ireland 2040; and the town and village renewal scheme.
Under the €60 million competitive regional enterprise development fund, REDF, the south-east region has secured total funding of over €10 million to date in the two completed calls. One of the projects is situated in County Carlow - the Insurtech Network Centre DAC - which aims to facilitate the development of a strong insurance and insurtech ecosystem in the south east and involves an investment of just over €1.4 million under the REDF. Guided by the forthcoming new regional enterprise plan to 2020 for the south east, the region and County Carlow are well positioned to build on this success and continue to see the benefits and results of collaborative and innovative initiatives that can make a significant impact on enterprise development in the region.