The Government is committed to supporting job creation and investment in the regions, including in County Donegal and the North-West as a whole. We are determined to ensure that employment and investment are distributed as evenly as possible across the country and we have set ambitious targets in pursuit of that goal.
The IDA has a significant role to play in helping us achieve that objective and the Agency’s staff have been working hard to increase regional investment. The relevant statistics reflect the emphasis that has been placed on this. There are now, for example, over 132,000 people employed across more than 680 IDA client firms outside of Dublin and 58% of total IDA client employment is located outside Dublin.
Donegal, along with many other parts of the country, has benefitted from the IDA's strong regional focus. The County has experienced a 60% increase in FDI-driven employment since 2012, with job numbers in IDA client firms there increasing from 2,223 in 2012 to 3,564 at the end of last year. In 2018 alone, the total of IDA supported jobs in Donegal increased by 5%, with the County now home to 12 IDA companies including SITA, Optibelt and Pramerica.
The Agency and its staff continue to do their utmost, including through site visits, to encourage overseas companies to locate in regional areas. Donegal has hosted six visits as of the third quarter of this year. In 2018, the County hosted eight site visits, a fourfold increase compared to two site visits that took place in 2017 and the highest number in over a decade.
In addition, the IDA is authorised by my Department to provide a range of particular financial supports in the form of employment, capital, research and development, environmental and training grants. These grants represent an important means of encouraging companies to invest in Ireland, particularly in regional locations. In 2018, the IDA paid over €1.1m in grants to client companies based in Donegal.