I have made regional enterprise development one of my key priorities as Minister. That is why I led the development of the Regional Enterprise Plans, which are enterprise focused strategies that are the result of a refresh and refocus of the Regional Action Plans for Jobs to ensure their relevance and impact out to 2020. The refreshed North-West Regional Enterprise Plan launched on the 25th February 2019.
In 2018, companies supported by Enterprise Ireland in Sligo employed 1,917 people, a 7% increase on the 2017 employment figure. Enterprise Ireland is actively working with companies with global ambition in Sligo to drive competitiveness, innovation and market diversification. In 2018 there were record growth levels in employment in every region which saw 61% of employment growth occurring outside of Dublin, bringing total employment in Enterprise Ireland-supported companies in the regions to 64%, another record high.
Enterprise Ireland also works with the Institutes of Technology to support entrepreneurship in the regions. A total of 7 new companies from Sligo IT recently participated in the Enterprise Ireland New Frontiers Programme and it is expected that these will progress to either Enterprise Ireland or the Local Enterprise Offices for further support and development.
In 2018, the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) in Sligo had 236 clients which supported 920 jobs in the county.
IDA Ireland markets County Sligo as part of the North-West region which includes Leitrim and Donegal. I am pleased that all three counties have seen net job gains with FDI employment in the North-West region increasing by 3% between 2017 and 2018. There are a total of 2,251 people employed across 23 IDA clients companies in Sligo.
The IDA continues to work hard to highlight the benefits of expanding or locating in Sligo. As part of the pilot phase of its Regional Property Programme in 2016, the IDA constructed an Advanced Technology Building in Sligo and successfully secured Abbott Ireland as a tenant.
Through my Department's Regional Enterprise Development Fund, Sligo County Enterprise Fund were approved for €1.9m for a development in Strandhill. The project focuses on the development of the Strand Campus to operate as a leading location for entrepreneurs in digital gaming and associated tech sectors, providing holistic support for start-up, innovation and growth.