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Denis Collins, IDA Board Member and Chairperson of the Board’s Sub-Committee on Regions
The global investment climate is in flux right now with investors looking to locate in jurisdictions that can offer them stability across the policy and regulatory and talent worlds.
Ireland has some excellent fundamentals going for it at the moment that will help position the country well to win investment into the future. IDA will fight to win business for Ireland first, after that, IDA works to position regional opportunities correctly through a team effort.
Every day of the year, IDA Ireland is working to make sure that investors are aware of the opportunities there are for development of their businesses in regional Ireland.
The “sell” to investors is constantly evolving, but in recent years, critical momentum has been achieved by having the existing business community working alongside our regional stakeholders to create local “commercial ecosystems” where new investors can thrive. This new ecosystem encourages collaboration across business groups, working with the industry and academic community and equally importantly, selling the quality of life that exists for so many people outside Dublin.
Executing IDA’s Regional Strategy is a crucial next step for the growth of Ireland Inc on many levels – commercially, academically and socially.
As an IDA Board Member and Chairperson of the Board’s Sub-Committee on Regions, it is quite exciting to drive and see the Agency’s regional strategy evolve.
The IDA Ireland team do an outstanding job moving the regional agenda forward – in which has been in place since 2015, with dedicated resources to regions, top shelf skills, real targets, ongoing execution and buckets of passion.
Their passion is second to none – I see it on a daily basis and am extremely proud of the team and their achievements.
Winning jobs for the regions is a team effort, and there are many stakeholders involved across multiple Agencies joining IDA in pushing a regional options with investors including in – industry, academia, government, public sector and citizens in many forms and shapes.
One group or organisation cannot make it happen in a vacuum - It is paramount we continue to foster collaboration across groups like IDA, DBEI, industry groups, Chambers, EI, LEOs, Councils, Universities and ITs large and small – medium companies, among others. The potential upside for regional Ireland here is significant, with knock-on effects across the community.
We must also be aware that Ireland will have to focus on its strengths in order to win business. As an investment location, we cannot be “all things to all people”.
In a perfect world, IDA Ireland would be able to attract a Fortune 100 company, with significant amounts of jobs into every region of the country. However, this is not necessarily a realistic ambition for all regions across Ireland and IDA will focus on each region’s strengths to target businesses that suit the opportunities in that area.
I’m encouraged at many recent results from across the country.
One shining example over the past year is the Sligo area. An important catalyst of the region was the announcement of “The Building Block” – a collaborative effort across many groups, led by IDA creating a business hub and focal point for business creativity along the Garavogue River – it has become the heart of the region and driving business creativity across the Border Region.
There have been multiple exciting job announcements from LiveTiles and Phibro among others. This is an example of the IDA’s regional focus and collaboration model at work.
The West regions continues to support a large cluster of medical device companies. Financial services companies Metlife and Fidelity have also opened second Irish sites in Galway in recent years.
Areas like Meath are also doing well with a data centre project from Facebook and Shire announcing their Piercetown site in 2016.
Mid West Region
Another example is in Limerick – a very strong, diverse collaborative team working together driving a robust agenda across Advanced Manufacturing, Pharma, Aviation and services among others. A recent job announcement from Stats is an example of this.
In the Midlands, there is a very compelling offering and access to resources from Roscommon to Dublin – this is a geographic location with much to offer and spotlight positively. One example is the recent announcement of 200 jobs in Neueda Technologies establishing their Software Engineering Hub in Athlone.
South East Region
I also attended recent meetings with the Wexford County Council leadership team – a very impressive team with a focused strategy. Their region has much to offer commercially as well as for leisure, with the added value of having a port that can continue to be utilized on a global basis. The recent INDOS job announcement in the Financial Services space is quite encouraging. West Pharma’s continuing expansion in the South East is also to be welcomed.
South West Region
I’m also very encouraged on recent developments in the Kerry area. From the indigenous side, AgTech and Financial Services focus is growing rapidly. We are also actively participating in a growing collaboration across IDA, Kerry County Council, IT Tralee, EI, SFI and companies like FEXCO and Dairymaster.
Competition for international investment is ferocious at the moment, and winning business into the regions necessitates that Ireland stays competitive into the future. Smarter regional infrastructure must be designed with a view towards creating conditions where investors can locate their businesses and Ireland’s new Project 2040 promises to boost Ireland’s regional attractiveness in the years to come as it rolls out new projects.
IDA will continue to fight to win investment for regions across Ireland. But the only way that we can do this is through collaboration. As the DBEI’s Regional Action Plan for Jobs says, it takes a whole region to win an investment, and if we all work together to sell the many excellent opportunities that exist across Ireland right now, we will see even more big names locating in the regions into the future.
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