As Minister, regional development is one of my absolute priorities. I am focused both on sustaining existing employment in the regions whilst also working to significantly grow both job creation and investment in every county of the country.
The recent annual results of the IDA have shown that we are making significant progress in increasing foreign direct investment supported jobs in the regions. In 2018, for example, 56% of all net new jobs created by the Agency were in locations outside Dublin. Similarly, every region in Ireland 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 with 58% of all IDA-supported employment now outside of Dublin. This represents the highest number of people employed in the regions by IDA clients in the Agency’s history with 2018 seeing more IDA jobs added in the regions than at any time over the past 17 years.
The IDA is working, on a daily basis, to promote regional cities and towns to potential investors. Since the beginning of IDA Ireland’s ‘Winning’ Strategy in 2015, 407 investments have been secured for the regions and almost 27,000 net jobs have been added on the ground in locations outside Dublin. To put that in context, an average of 102 investments have been won annually for locations beyond Dublin, compared to an annual average of 69 under the previous strategy. This a testament to the focus IDA Ireland has placed on regional investment and the whole of government action to enhance our regional offering.
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. Companies supported by Enterprise Ireland (EI) created over 9,000 net new jobs last year with every region benefitting from these increases in employment. There are now over 215,000 people employed in EI-supported companies, with 64% of these jobs located outside of Dublin.
The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) have also performed well with 3,656 net new jobs created in 2018. This brings the total number of people employed in LEO-supported companies to 36,666, with 83.7% of these jobs located outside Dublin.
I remain optimistic about the job creation potential of Irish companies across the regions. To date, I have launched eight of nine Regional Enterprise Plans that my Department has spearheaded with regional stakeholders. The final plan for the South East will be launched on 22 March. These Plans will play an important role in encouraging regional investment and job creation across the regions.
I want to emphasise that creating jobs in the regions will remain a key objective of the IDA, EI, the LEOs and my Department. We are collectively focused on delivering the fairest possible spread of investment across the country. The energy and resources we have invested into regional growth is, as the evidence illustrates, producing results. We will continue to do our utmost to encourage further such job growth across all parts of Ireland in the time ahead.