Thursday, 7 March 2019

Ceisteanna (13)

Thomas Byrne


13. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her plans for future investment and jobs in County Meath. [11270/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

Regional development remains an absolute priority of the Government and my Department. 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. My Department and its agencies are working to ensure that employment and investment are distributed as evenly as possible across the country including in County Meath.

Co. Meath forms part of the Mid-East region and on 7th February 2019 I launched the new Regional Enterprise Plan to 2020 for the Mid-East. Building on the previous Regional Action Plan for Jobs 2015 to 2017, the new Plan targets a 10-15 percent growth in employment over the period to 2020 and to ensure that unemployment reduces to within at least one percentage point of the State average. Since commencing the Regional Action Plan for Jobs in 2015, excellent progress has been made on job creation in the Mid-East region, with 42,400 more people in employment in the region from Q1 2015 (baseline year) to Q4 2018. The unemployment rate in the Mid-East region at Q4 2018 stands at 4.9 percent, below the State average of 5.4% and down from 9.6 percent in Q1 2015.

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 organisation. The last 12 months have seen more IDA jobs added in the regions than at any time over the past 17 years.

I am pleased to say that County 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.

A total of 18,846 new jobs were created in EI companies in 2018 (net 9,119 jobs created). In County Meath, 500 new jobs were created by Enterprise Ireland client companies. A total of 7,135 people are now employed in 155 Enterprise Ireland supported companies in Co. Meath. In the period 2016 - 2018 Enterprise Ireland paid €4,146,291 million to client companies in Meath to support companies to be innovative, improve competitiveness and to diversify their global footprint.

The Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Meath 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 the county.

In 2018, LEO Meath supported the creation of 231 gross new jobs and approved 37 grants in total for the year, to a value of €470,165. LEO Meath ran training courses for 894 participants and provided mentoring services for 306 participants. I also announced an extra €5 million in Budget 2019 which will enable the LEOs, including LEO Meath, to support a broad variety of home-grown micro-enterprises.

While progress has been made in helping to generate new economic opportunities in County Meath, the Government remains determined to achieve more. That is why work is continuing to unlock further the economic potential of County Meath. My Department and its Agencies are pivotal to this. The energy and resources we have invested into regional growth is, as the evidence illustrates, now helping produce results. We will continue to do our utmost to encourage further such job growth across all parts of Ireland in the time ahead.