Increasing the level of foreign direct investment in regional Ireland, including in County Tipperary, has been a priority of mine since I was first appointed Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation. As an elected representative of Cavan-Monaghan, I know how important it is to create new jobs and economic opportunities in regional areas. That is why I am committed to achieving the best possible spread of FDI across the country and to working with our enterprise agencies to generate employment and investment outside our main cities.
We are making good progress in this regard. More jobs were created in IDA Ireland client companies outside Dublin in 2018 than at any point in the last 17 years. Every region in the country saw FDI-driven job gains and there are now over 132,000 people employed in IDA Ireland client firms outside the capital, representing nearly 60% of all IDA Ireland-supported employment. It is important to note this represents the highest number of people employed in IDA-supported companies outside of Dublin in the history of the organisation. These positive results clearly show that Government policy is working and demonstrate the huge strides that have been made in terms of boosting FDI related job creation across Ireland.
As for Tipperary in particular, we want to grow its stock of FDI in 2019, just as we want to increase investment in every other county in the country. Tipperary is already home to ten IDA Ireland client firms, which collectively employ more than 3,700 people. This client base includes well known firms such as Abbott Ireland, Boston Scientific and Merck, Sharp and Dohme. Last year saw a net total of 55 new FDI jobs created in Tipperary.
A key focus for the agency in the county in 2019 is supporting further job growth in companies already present there. Experience, gained over decades of FDI in Ireland, shows us that overseas companies already in situ are the most likely to generate new employment opportunities. IDA Ireland staff work closely with client companies to explore the potential for further such job creation and they are certainly doing that with client firms in Tipperary as well.
The agency is also working hard to secure new investors and overseas firms for Tipperary. Site visits are an important part of this. There were eight such visits to sites in Tipperary in each of 2016 and 2017, with five visits taking place last year.