My Department and its agencies are working towards ambitious targets to ensure that employment and investment are spread as evenly as possible across the country. I am firmly focused on delivering on the Programme for a Partnership Government target, to create 200,000 new jobs by 2020, with 135,000 of these jobs to be located outside of Dublin.
Co. Wexford forms part of the South-East region and later this month I will be launching a new Regional Enterprise Plan to 2020 for the South 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, very good progress has been made on job creation in the South-East region, with 18,500 more people in employment in the region from Q1 2015 (baseline year) to Q4 2018. The unemployment rate in the South-East Region at Q4 2018 stands at 7.7 percent, down from 11.7 percent in Q1 2015.
There are 19 IDA client companies located in County Wexford employing a total of 3,139 people there. I am pleased that these companies have exhibited strong growth in recent years, as evidenced by the 5% increase in IDA supported employment in the County from 2017 to 2018.
More broadly, the energy and resources we have invested into regional growth is, as the evidence illustrates, now helping produce results. In 2018, for example, the IDA delivered 113 regional investments with 56% of net new jobs created outside Dublin. The last four years have seen 44,500 new FDI jobs created outside the capital.
In terms of recent announcements, in November 2018 Bausch Healthcare announced an additional 100 new jobs in Waterford, MSD announced 170 new jobs in Carlow in October 2018 and Indos Financial announced in July that it will expand its operations centre in Enniscorthy with a move to new premises which will create up to 15 new roles over the next two years.
Looking ahead, the IDA will continue to work with its clients to identify opportunities for new investment or expansion in Wexford and the broader South-East region. In doing so, the Agency will draw the attention of investors to the region's strengths including its ports and existing clusters of financial services, technology and high-value manufacturing firms.
Enterprise Ireland client companies based in Wexford created 200 new jobs in 2018, bringing total employment by Enterprise Ireland clients to 4,674 while direct payments to client companies in the county increased from €2.1 million in 2017 to €4.7 million in 2018.
The South East Region secured over €10m in funding under the regional Enterprise Development Fund. Significant investment announced in Co. Wexford include the re-opening of Glanbia Ireland’s Wexford cheese plant following a major capital investment programme. The €35 million investment has been supported by the Government through Enterprise Ireland since 2014 and has increased peak capacity at the plant.
The Local Enterprise Office (LEO) in Wexford is the ‘first-stop-shop’ for providing advice and guidance, financial assistance and ‘soft’ supports in the form of training and mentoring to anyone wishing to start or grow a business in the area. In 2018 the LEO in Wexford supported 227 clients with 1,308 total jobs which was a gross increase of 302 jobs on 2017.
In addition, I announced an extra €5 million in Budget 2019 which will enable the LEOs, including LEO Wexford, to support a broad range of indigenous micro-enterprises.
These initiatives, along with the many supports available to businesses from my Department through Enterprise Ireland, IDA and the Local Enterprise Offices, are designed to maximise the creation of quality and sustainable employment in all regional, rural and urban areas, including Co. Wexford and the wider region. I am focused on doing everything I can to deliver the fairest possible spread of investment across the country. I want to emphasise that creating jobs in the regions is a priority for both the Government and my Department.