The Government is committed to supporting job creation and investment in the regions. This remains a key priority. That is why my Department and its agencies are working towards ambitious targets to ensure that employment and investment are distributed as evenly as possible across the country. Total employment in IDA Ireland's client companies now stands at over 230,000, with 58% of all IDA employment outside of Dublin. This represents the highest number of people employed by IDA clients outside of Dublin in the history of the Agency.
It is encouraging to note that County Meath experienced a 4% increase in foreign direct investment (FDI) employment in 2018. There are now 19 IDA-supported client companies in the County employing over 1,600 people. Meath continues, in particular, to maintain a strong contingent of overseas firms in the Financial Services, Manufacturing and Biotechnology sectors with key clients such as ArcRoyal, International Fund Services and Alltech performing well in the County.
IDA Ireland continues to draw the attention of investors considering locating or expanding to Meath and the broader Mid-East region. As of the third quarter of this year there has been three IDA site visits in County Meath. In 2018 there was a twofold increase in site visits by prospective investors with six site visits taking place last year compared to three visits in 2017.
IDA Ireland does not own any buildings in County Meath. Meath County Council obtained planning permission for an Advanced Technology Building (ATB) on IDA owned lands at the Business and Technology Park (B&T) in Navan. These lands were subsequently purchased by Emeri Nutrition, on a leasehold basis, on which they constructed an ATB. The Agency will keep the property situation in Meath under review to help ensure that companies can find the facilities or buildings they need in order to generate new jobs and investment.
While progress has been made in helping to generate new economic opportunities in County Meath, the Government remains determined to achieve more. That is why work is continuing to unlock further the economic potential of the County. The IDA remains pivotal to this and the Agency is engaging with its clients and with other enterprise agencies to create jobs and source new investment there.