This is the last blog that I will be posting from the West Coast as after over four years I will be returning to Dublin to take up a new challenge in IDA HQ. Paraic Hayes, whom many of you will already know, will take over as head of IDA’s West Coast Operations and will continue to provide West Coast insights.
These years have certainly been eventful and have definitely been the most interesting and satisfying of my career to date. I feel privileged to have led the IDA West Coast team since April 2011. When I arrived Ireland had recently agreed the national refinancing with our EU and IMF partners that had followed the precipitous collapse of the Irish property market and consequently the government’s tax receipts. There was a lot of talk in both the US and Europe as to whether we would be able to maintain our economic development policies and in particular the competitive corporation taxation regime that is integral to our value proposition for inward investment.
Minister Bruton made his first overseas IDA visit in June of that year and we met with our large existing clients and with potential new investors on the West Coast and the meetings were certainly focussed on the sustainability of both the financing programme and tax regime in particular. During Minister Bruton’s most recent visit in November 2014, I was struck by how the dynamic of the meetings had changed to focus once again on the detail of how Ireland can drive successfully European growth for West coast companies and the main concerns centred around the malaise affecting growth in Europe in general. Regular visits by both the Taoiseach and Minister Bruton have certainly helped us maintain Ireland’s profile as the best business location in Europe and, like all of our visitors, I think they enjoyed the relentless optimism and positivity of the West Coast.
The optimism of US West Coast companies has certainly made an enormous contribution to the economic rehabilitation of Ireland. First steadying the ship by continuing to show confidence in the country. During 2011 alone Amgen, Google and Intel all announced substantial new capital investments in Ireland. Over the last four years other major clients such as Amazon, Microsoft, HP, Facebook, Allergan and LinkedIn have continued to invest and companies such as Twitter, Dropbox, Fireye, Survey Monkey, Qualcomm and Airbnb established new Irish operations.Apple have also been an amazing client to work with culminating in the $1 billion investment in a new data centre complex in Galway announced earlier this year in addition to their continued growth in Cork.
Over a two year period the IDA West Coast team partnered with our clients and Aer Lingus on the reinstatement of the Dublin-San Francisco flight. We have also worked hard to get the good news out to local media including feature articles in the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Jose Mercury news and an interview by on Bloomberg West TV with our new CEO, Martin Shanahan.
It has been both a privilege and a pleasure to lead the IDA West Coast team during this turbulent time. We have exceeded all targets set for us and have had a lot of fun along the way. Thanks also to the team for listening politely to my seldom closely held opinions on all and sundry. The West Coast team has made a major contribution to the successful implementation of the IDA strategy 2020 and the economic development of Ireland. IDA has recognised that success and has shown its commitment to the market by doubling the size of the West Coast team under the Winning abroad initiative.
Ireland now has the highest growth rate in the EU at over 4% and the unemployment rate has dropped below 10%. On average a new West Coast company opens an operation in Ireland every two weeks and our existing clients are continuing to grow both their investment and employment. Further details can be found at Q3 Ireland Update.
Our job in IDA is to identify and build long term relationships with international companies that have the potential to invest in Ireland. We build on the work of our predecessors in the job and we also depend on the local Irish business community as well as our colleagues in Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland and the Embassy and Consulate network in Team Ireland to achieve our objectives.
Thank you all for your help over the last four years and I am sure that you will continue to assist Paraic and the team in Mountain View and Irvine as they work with our West Coast partners to create jobs in Ireland that will continue to drive Ireland’s economic and social development.
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