Thursday, 7 March 2019

Ceisteanna (8)

Peter Burke


8. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her views on the performance of the IDA in terms of attracting investment and creating jobs in the regions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11163/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí ó Béal (7 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Business)

What are the Minister's views on the performance of the IDA in respect of attracting investment and creating jobs in the regions, and will she make a statement on the matter?

As Minister, regional development is one of my top priorities. I am focused on sustaining existing employment in the regions while also working to grow significantly both job creation and investment in every county in the country.

The recent annual results of IDA Ireland have shown that we are making significant progress in increasing jobs supported by foreign direct investment, FDI, 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. More than 132,000 people are employed across 681 firms in IDA Ireland client companies outside the capital, with 58% of all IDA Ireland-supported employment outside of Dublin. This represents the highest number of people employed in the regions by IDA Ireland clients in the agency’s history, with 2018 seeing more IDA Ireland jobs added in the regions than at any time in the past 17 years.

IDA Ireland works daily 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, while almost 27,000 net jobs have been added in locations outside Dublin. To put that in context, an average of 102 investments annually have been won for locations beyond Dublin, compared with an annual average of 69 under the previous strategy. This is a testament to the focus that 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 forms only 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 more than 9,000 net new jobs last year, with every region benefiting from these increases in employment. There are now more than 215,000 people employed in EI-supported companies, and 64% of these jobs are located outside of Dublin.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House

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 in March. These plans will play an important role in encouraging regional investment and job creation throughout the regions. I emphasise that creating jobs in the regions will remain a key objective of IDA Ireland, EI, the LEOs and my Department. We are collectively focused on delivering the fairest possible spread of investment throughout the country. The energy and resources we have invested in regional growth is producing results, as the evidence illustrates. We will continue to do our utmost to encourage further such job growth in all parts of Ireland in the time ahead.

I welcome the Minister's detailed response. The year 2019 is the 70th anniversary of the creation of IDA Ireland and it is important that a Minister from regional Ireland controls this economic portfolio. It is no small feat that job growth of 66% has been obtained outside of Dublin and the Minister has had a considerable part to play in that regard by driving regional Ireland through initiatives such as the regional enterprise development fund, which has provided significant funding to encourage people to get on the road and ensure that investment in the area continues.

I am from a large regional town, Mullingar, where there is a 70-acre, fully serviced IDA Ireland park. It is one important area in which we seek investment, although I acknowledge that the council, in conjunction with IDA Ireland, is applying for planning permission for an advance factory unit. Any movement in that regard would be helpful to shorten lead times for investors in the locality.

I know about the IDA Ireland park in Mullingar and I agree that it is a fine site. I assure the Deputy that IDA Ireland will continue to market all of its sites to potential investors.

On regional investment and growth, I launched the regional enterprise plan for the midlands in Mountmellick on 6 February, which will build on the recent strong performance of job creation in the region. At the end of 2018, more than 3,400 people were employed in IDA Ireland-supported companies in the county, which was 53% more than in 2011. Recent job announcements include 200 jobs at Neueda Technologies in County Westmeath, as well as 100 jobs at Red Seal Cups and 200 jobs at Avery Dennison, both of which are in County Longford. The Deputy will be familiar with the fact that Center Parcs, for which I launched the recruitment process last year, will open in the coming months. That will create more than 1,000 jobs in the midlands, which will be a game-changer for the tourism industry in that county.

I welcome the important initiatives that are ongoing in the regions, such as Center Parcs that the Minister mentioned and other important investors who have entered the locality. I am hopeful that, in a post-Brexit era, the regions will be competitive as they will offer a viable option for investors to locate. Given that with Project Ireland 2040 we want the regions to grow twice as fast as Dublin, it is important that we continue that trajectory. I hope that IDA Ireland will put sustained pressure on the midlands to ensure that we continue attracting investment. It is important for all sectors, public transport and quality of life, and the regions have much to offer people. I am grateful for every effort that the Minister is making and for her ongoing support for Mullingar.

I acknowledge that the Deputy works hard to attract and promote investment in his county and region. It is important that we put forward the positives and tell the good story. Success brings success and we want to see more investment in the regions, which is a top priority for me. I do not want it to be a case of regions versus Dublin or Dublin versus the rest of the country because that is not good for the country. Rather, both should work together because strong regional support will lead to strong cities.

I was delighted to open officially Revive Active's new manufacturing facility with the Deputy in Mullingar a few weeks ago. The facility will create more than ten new jobs locally, which is good to see. More than 3,500 people are employed in EI companies in County Westmeath, which is up from just over 2,000 in 2011. Good things, therefore, are happening in the county and I want to continue to work with the Deputy to ensure that we attract investment into the regions.

B’fhéidir nach bhfuil cead agam ach ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh Scoil Loreto as Baile na nGallóglach, Milford i gContae Dhún na nGall agus tá súil agam go mbainfidh sibh sult as bhur dturas anseo go dtí Dáil Éireann.

Before I call Deputy Deering, I call Deputy Clare Daly, whom I almost overlooked. How could I have done that?