Regional development - whether in north Meath or further afield - 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.
Significant progress has been made in recent years in creating new jobs and economic opportunities outside of our main cities. 58% of all IDA-supported employment, for example, is now outside of Dublin. The IDA is focused, as am I, on increasing that percentage further in 2019.
With regard to IDA activity in Meath in particular, the Agency regularly engages with key stakeholders on the ground in the county, 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 Meath 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 county will lead to more investment and job creation for the wider area in due course.
In terms of recent performance, 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 over 1,600 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.
While progress has been made in helping to generate new economic opportunities in Meath, the Government remains determined to achieve more. That is why work is continuing to unlock further the economic potential in the county. The IDA remains pivotal to this and the Agency is engaging with its clients and with other enterprise agencies to create jobs and source new investment there.
As regards beneficiaries of grant support in County Meath, Enterprise Ireland has supported a number of projects there under the relevant state aid guidelines. In the period 2014 – 2018, clients of that Agency there received €1.7 million in payments. In regard to the relevant state aid guidelines, due to the number of companies involved and commercial sensitivities, Enterprise Ireland is not able to provide further information on those payments at this time.