Dublin may be a natural business hub, but the country’s FDI story doesn’t end in the capital. Silicon Docks is synonymous with thriving tech companies, but cities like Galway and Cork attract their share of multinationals too. Galway alone has close to 23,000 people whose jobs come from IDA-supported FDI projects, while Cork has a thriving community of companies in both pharmaceuticals and cybersecurity sectors.
What’s also noticeable is a diverse spread of companies in other parts of the country, including Limerick and Portlaoise, where the pharma company Regeneron in Limerick, and Internal Results, a sales lead generation company, are respectively based. Automotive company BorgWarner is based in Tralee, Co Kerry. National Pen, a maker of personalised marketing merchandise, employs 250 people in Dundalk, Co Louth. Further north and west, Pramerica now has more than 1,500 staff at its Irish base in Letterkenny, Co Donegal.
The biomedical testing company Beckman Coulter has a diagnostics plant at Lismeehan in Co Clare. Not far away, Shannon Free Zone will be the starting site for Edwards Lifesciences Corporation, which makes heart valve technoogies. At the beginning of March, the company announced it will employ 60 people in production, engineering and professional management. In 2020, the company plans to move into a new, purpose-built manufacturing facility in the Mid-West of Ireland that will ultimately employ around 600 people.
The previous week, Deutsche Börse Group revealed plans to expand its activities in Cork at its post-trade services arm Clearstream. The current office in the Airport Business Park now has 362 employees, with a further 200 recruits due over the next two years.
That news came as Limerick city was named one of the principal winners in the European Cities of the Future Awards 2018/19 by fDi Intelligence. These awards are a barometer of attractiveness for cities and regions pitching themselves for inward investment.
Limerick was named European City of the Future in its population category and ranked first for Business Friendliness and FDI Strategy in its population category. The city was also runner-up in the category of Best for Economic Potential and was listed in the top 10 European cities in its population category for human capital and lifestyle. Mayor of the City and County of Limerick, Cllr Stephen Keary said the international recognition would boost efforts to promote Limerick’s attractiveness as an investment location.
Though Dublin continues to attract FDI projects, spreading inward investment throughout the country is the result of a deliberate strategy by IDA Ireland. One of the ways it encourages this is by encouraging clients that first set up in Dublin to open sister sites in the west of Ireland. Two examples are MetLife in Galway and First Data in Nenagh, Co Tipperary. The German enterprise software giant SAP originally set up on the outskirts of Dublin in 1997, then added a second site in 2003 in the West of Ireland.
Advanced Technology Buildings
This strategy also extends beyond identifying locations to developing physical sites. Since 2015, IDA has been building energy-efficient facilities around Ireland, located in small cities or large towns. Three such Advanced Technology Buildings in Athlone, Sligo and Waterford are already securing jobs. Two further sites at Tralee and Castlebar have just been completed.
This is part of a five-year, €150 million programme aimed at attracting high-tech employment to each location. The IDA is breaking ground on three more technology and office sites in Dundalk, Limerick and Galway, while further down the pipeline is an office complex for Carlow and second sites for Waterford and Athlone.
This location diversity may come from a high-level strategic plan, but its effects are felt among individual employees of the companies that choose sites outside Dublin. Drogheda, Co Louth, is the site of payment company YapStone’s international HQ. Peter Rowan, the company’s EVP of international and global customer support, says the upside includes better quality of life for staff living nearby, which in turn drives benefits back to the business.
“About 50 per cent of the current staff is from the Drogheda region or they live 15 to 20 minutes from the office. They no longer have that commute to Dublin. I hired a person in November who was doing a 90-minute trip each way, every day. Now she does a 12-minute commute. It has improved her quality of life, she can spend more time at home with her family, she is less stressed when she gets to the office and she is more productive and engaged,” he told the Irish Times ‘Local Impact’ business supplement.
With such a spread of companies creating jobs right throughout Ireland, it’s clear FDI doesn’t stand for ‘finds Dublin interesting’.
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