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 area, posted net gains in jobs last year.
While there were no new FDI-supported jobs created in Cavan in 2018, Monaghan experienced an 8% increase, with 12 jobs added by companies in the County. Similarly, Meath saw a 4.5% increase, with the creation of 67 new jobs last year.
With regard to site visits in 2019, data is now available for the first six months of this year. Counties Meath and Monaghan have each hosted two site visits so far this year. County Cavan has hosted four site visits over that same period compared to two site visits for the whole of 2018. While the IDA will continue to promote and showcase locations in these Counties to prospective investors, it is important to remember that the decision as to where to invest is always taken by the companies themselves.
My Department and the IDA have taken a number of steps to attract further investment to these Counties. As part of Budget 2019, for example, I allocated an additional €10 million for the next phase of the IDA’s Regional Property Programme (RPP). This includes plans for an Advanced Technology Unit (ATU) at Knockaconny, County Monaghan. I announced the appointment of a design and delivery team for this ATU earlier in 2019 with construction due to commence later this year. These facilities can help to encourage overseas investors to consider regional areas and I am confident that the ATU in Knockaconny, once complete, will lead to further investment and job creation.
In addition to the RPP, the IDA targets further investment for the wider area through its office in the Cavan Innovation and Technology Centre. The Agency has also appointed a new Regional Business Development Manager for the North-East Region. As part of its strategy to promote the area, the IDA is focusing on specific 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.
In addition to the work of the IDA, my Department’s €60 million Regional Enterprise Development Fund (REDF) has supported five projects within the Meath, Cavan and Monaghan area, with a total investment of €8.2 million. These include: the Boyne Valley Food Innovation District in Meath; a food centre of excellence in Ballybay; a networked digital and innovation hub in Cavan (with others located in Leitrim and Longford); an engineering business network across the North East region; and an investment of €4.9 million in a nationally significant bioeconomy innovation centre located in Monaghan.
The Government remains determined to further unlock and develop the economic potential of all Counties, including those in the Border region. The Enterprise Agencies under my remit will continue to engage with their clients, and with one another, to create more jobs and source new investment across the country.