As part of its €150m Regional Property Programme (RPP) the IDA are directly investing in a building programme to help ensure property solutions are in place for overseas companies considering investing or expanding in Ireland, thereby encouraging more foreign direct investment (FDI) in the regions. Budget 2019 also saw the Agency allocated an additional €10m for the RPP bringing its yearly capital budget for property to €47m.
While Mullingar has not been selected by the IDA as a location for an Advanced Technology Unit (ATU), the Agency continues to draw the attention of investors to the town. The IDA operates a Business and Technology Park in Ardmore with marketable lands and also owns land in the Clonmore area. These lands are being actively marketed by the IDA to prospective and existing clients through its network of offices in Ireland and overseas. In addition to this, the Agency also actively engage with owners of privately owned buildings and lands in the Mullingar area as potential locations for investment.
County Westmeath has benefitted from the RPP. In 2014, the IDA successfully constructed an ATU in Athlone and secured Aerie Pharmaceuticals as a tenant. Under the current first phase of the RPP, the construction of an Advanced Office Building (AOB) in Athlone is expected to begin late this year or in 2020. In the second phase of the RPP, construction will begin on an additional AOB for Athlone in 2020. Once the first and second phases of the RPP are completed there will be a total of three buildings constructed in Westmeath and I am confident that these will stimulate further investment and job creation for the entire county. My Department will continue to keep the IDA's property requirements under review in the time ahead.
More broadly, the FDI trend in Westmeath is positive. There are currently 21 IDA client companies located in the County, employing 3,466 people. Three of these companies are located in Mullingar, employing approximately 150 people. The wider County has seen an almost 17% increase in FDI employment from 2017 to 2018 and the IDA actively engages with its client base to support them in growing their business and footprint further.