As Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, regional development across Ireland, including in Tipperary, has been a key priority of mine. That is why my Department and its Agencies have been doing everything we can to increase the level of employment and investment in every county in Ireland. This has included placing a particular emphasis on boosting foreign direct investment (FDI) in regional areas.
We are making good progress in this regard. 2018 saw more jobs created in IDA client companies outside of Dublin than at any point in the last 17 years. Every region in the country saw FDI-driven job gains and there are now over 132,000 people employed in IDA client firms outside the capital, representing nearly 60% of all IDA-supported employment. It is important to note this represents the highest number of people employed in IDA-supported companies outside of Dublin in the history of the Agency. These statistics show that the investment the Government has made in promoting regional development is producing results and that job creation across Ireland continues to rise.
As for Tipperary in particular, the IDA has been working to increase its stock of FDI in 2019, just as it has been trying to deliver further investment in every county in the country. Tipperary is already home to ten different IDA client firms, which collectively employ over 3,700 people. This client base includes well-known firms such as Abbott Ireland, Boston Scientific and Merck, Sharp and Dohme. Last year saw a net total of 55 new FDI jobs created in Tipperary.
A key focus for the IDA in Tipperary in 2019 has been supporting further job growth in companies already present there. Experience, gained over decades of FDI in Ireland, shows us that overseas companies already in situ are the most likely to generate new employment opportunities. The IDA’s staff work closely with client companies to explore the potential for further such job creation and they are currently doing that with client firms in Tipperary as well.
The IDA has a number of incentives in place to encourage companies to invest in County Tipperary. In addition to the general support that it provides to client firms through advice and expertise on investing in Ireland, the Agency 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 almost €4.4m in grants to client companies based in Tipperary.
Site visits are another important tool in attracting prospective investors. As of the third quarter of this year there have been five IDA site visits to Tipperary. The Agency will continue to suggest suitable sites in the County to investors considering locating in that wider area.
With respect to Brexit, our efforts to win more FDI will be helped by our continued status as an attractive destination for overseas firms. We have already seen over 70 Brexit-related investments and 5,000 associated jobs won since the outcome of the referendum in June 2016. Ireland’s membership of the European Union ensures that companies considering an investment here will gain barrier-free access to the EU market. When taken together with other strengths - such as our pro-enterprise environment and our highly-skilled dynamic workforce - I am confident that Ireland will continue to be an attractive destination for mobile overseas investment in the years ahead.