Regional development, not just in the Border area but across Ireland, remains a key priority of mine as Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation. Together with my Department and its enterprise Agencies, I am focused on strengthening investment and job creation all over the country.
In 2018, 56% of all net new jobs created by IDA Ireland were in locations outside Dublin. Similarly, every region in Ireland, including the Border Region, 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. In fact, 58% of all IDA-supported employment is now outside of Dublin. This represents the highest number of people employed in the regions by IDA clients in the Agency’s history.
The strength of the IDA's recent mid-year results for 2019 indicates that we can continue to rely on the selling points that make investing in the regions so attractive in the first place with the technology, financial services and pharmaceutical sectors performing extremely well. While more work certainly remains to be done, the Border region has benefitted from the IDA's regional focus. The area experienced a 3% growth in employment by overseas companies in 2018 and we are working hard to increase this figure in 2019.
As part of their work in growing investment in the regions, the IDA is directly investing in a building programme to help ensure property solutions are in place for overseas companies considering investing or expanding outside our major cities. As part of Budget 2019, I allocated an additional €10 million to the Agency for the next phase of its Regional Property Programme (RPP). The RPP includes plans for an Advanced Technology Unit at Knockaconny, County Monaghan. As the Deputy will be aware, I announced the appointment of a design and delivery team for this Unit earlier this year with construction due to commence later this year. The wider Border region will also benefit from the RPP, with new buildings planned for Dundalk and Sligo, which I am confident will help generate new opportunities for surrounding areas.
The IDA is taking other steps to promote the region to investors. For example, the Agency has a dedicated regional manager for the North East/North West Region and an office in the Cavan Innovation and Technology Centre. As part of its strategy to promote the area, it is focusing on sectors including agri-food, manufacturing, tourism and internationally traded services. The Agency's staff regularly engage with key stakeholders on the ground in Cavan and Monaghan, including with local authorities, public bodies, the education sector and companies from both its own client base but also from the indigenous sector. County Meath, meanwhile, is being actively marketed by the IDA as a location for second sites for multinationals in the Dublin region, with a focus on building clusters in existing sectors like high-value manufacturing and international services.
While there were no new foreign direct investment (FDI) supported jobs created in Cavan in 2018, Monaghan experienced an 8% increase in FDI employment, with 12 jobs added by companies in the County. Similarly, Meath saw a 4.5% increase in IDA supported employment, with the creation of 67 new jobs last year.
Information on site visit data for 2019 is only yet available for the first three months of this year. Counties Cavan, Monaghan and Meath each hosted one site visit over that period. In 2018, County Meath reported a twofold annual increase in site visits with six visits. County Cavan hosted two site visits, whilst there were three site visits to County Monaghan, compared to one visit in 2017.
It is important to emphasise that FDI, of course, only forms one part of investment in regional locations. Indigenous enterprise is responsible for a significant portion of employment growth, especially outside Dublin. Both Monaghan and Cavan have seen promising growth in the numbers employed in Enterprise Ireland-backed firms, with increases of 5% and 6% respectively. County Meath has seen a 4% increase in EI-backed businesses. The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) are also performing well, with net increases of 146 jobs, 134 jobs and 143 jobs in LEO-supported companies in Cavan, Monaghan and Meath respectively in 2018.
Another example of the success of this Government's strategy for regional job creation is Combilift's new €50 million Research & Development and Testing Centre in County Monaghan. This new investment will create 200 jobs and represents a home-grown success story. The positive impact that Combilift has on the county and the border area cannot be underestimated. Under my Department's Regional Enterprise Development Fund, I was pleased to allocate funding for a number of projects in the three counties including the Boyne Valley Food Hub in Meath, the Bioeconomy Research Centre in Monaghan and Cavan Digital Hub.
I can assure the Deputy that all of the Enterprise Agencies under my remit will continue to engage with their clients, and with one another, to create more jobs and source new investments in 2019 for Cavan, Monaghan and Meath.