Collaboration key to US-Irish success

Collaboration key to US-Irish success
Pat English, Partner, Matheson; Prof Patrick O’Shea, President, UCC; Mark Redmond, CEO, American Chamber of Commerce Ireland; Mary Buckley, Executive director, IDA; and Mark Gantly, president (outgoing), American Chamber of Commerce Ireland, at AmCham’s 2019 Southern Conference in UCC. The American Chamber’s 2020 Southern Conference, on September 24, in UCC, followed by the President’s Dinner in Maryborough Hotel, will celebrate the collaboration by domestic Irish business and multinationals and sustainability.

A series of 14 ‘State-specific’ guides, providing practical tips and advice to Irish firms seeking to establish business in the USA for the first time, is currently being compiled and published by the American Chamber of Commerce.

“We have launched a series of guides to investing in the US in partnership with Enterprise Ireland and the US embassy,” explains CEO Mark Redmond.

“We have launched guides to Missouri, Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin. These have been very well received,” he said, adding that several other guides to US states are currently being prepared, and will be launched over St Patrick’s Week for more states, such as New York State, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and California.

“These guides are freely available to Irish companies seeking to set up in the US.

“We have also established a group of 12 Irish business leaders who act as pro-bono coaches or mentors for Irish companies new to the States.

“Each of these very experienced business leaders was interviewed, essentially about what they themselves wished they’d been told when they were first setting up in the United States.

“As a result, they are providing practical common-sense advice based on their own journeys and their own experience of the US market, the good and the bad!

Mark Redmond, American Chamber of Commerce Ireland, Chief Executive
Mark Redmond, American Chamber of Commerce Ireland, Chief Executive

“They were very generous with their advice, and they have also agreed to make themselves available as mentors and coaches to the new companies coming after them.

“One of the key pieces of advice, for example, is the need to really research the US market.

"A good example here is the fact that every state in the USA has a different set of regulations, which is something that can catch Irish people by surprise.

“This means that from state to state, you will have totally different regulations regarding employment law or taxes, for example, so you really do need to go in with your eyes open and your research done and understand your market.

“We got some great advice from David Walsh, the founder of Netwatch, for example. He says that while your Irish-ness will open doors for you, it won’t win you the business.

“So use your Irish-ness to make the connection, but then it is up to you to seal the deal.”

The objective of the project, he says, is to ultimately publish guides to “all the states that are most attractive and accessible to Irish business.

We have eight completed and we’re preparing to launch a further six guides in 2020.

On the economy front things are good and getting better, he says — shortly before Christmas the Chamber carried out a comprehensive survey with the leadership of Chamber member companies.

“We found that 80% of companies believe Ireland is a better place to invest in today than in 2015, with 74% of them increasing their headcount in 2019.

“Throughout our membership we have a great geographical spread,” he said, adding that the Chamber is currently in the middle of an 18-venue briefing tour of the US multinationals in Ireland.

“We are putting forward our priorities for 2020 and discussing the key things on their minds. The Chamber’s priority is to keep Ireland as a global location of choice for inclusive talent and innovation with a global impact,” he says, adding that the multi-nationals her are “incredibly ambitious” and strongly approving of the increasing diversity of the talent pool in Ireland.

There are now, reports Redmond, up to 100 different nationalities in the workforce across the multinational sector.

“This is a very inclusive talent pool, something which is very much approved by our member companies,” he said, adding that increased investment in research and development and innovation was a key theme across the board.

“Ireland has some of the most advanced manufacturing facilities in the world — from med-tech to Pharma and IT, and this is driving investment,” he said, adding that, on this same theme on September 24 next, the Chamber is holding a major conference in UCC followed by a President’s Dinner in the Maryborough Hotel.

David Walsh, CEO of Netwatch, among the industry experts previously invited to speak to AmCham's membership
David Walsh, CEO of Netwatch, among the industry experts previously invited to speak to AmCham's membership

“This conference will focus on innovation, collaboration and inclusion, and there will be a spotlight on collaboration by domestic Irish business and multinationals on sustainability.”

The President’s dinner will see the presentation of two awards.

The Cairdeas Award — the word ‘cairdeas’ means friendship in Irish — is presented to an industry or organisation which has strongly promoted community impact in the southern region.

The 2019 award went to IWish for its work in encouraging young female students to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

The second prize to be awarded at the dinner is the equally prestigious Creáfog Award.

Créafóg’ is the Irish word for earth and the accolade, which is awarded to a multinational firm which has demonstrated real excellence in terms of sustainability and environmental awareness.

PepsiCo received this award in 2019. A similar conference will take place in Galway in June 2020 and in Limerick in October.

However, more immediately, March 5 next, will bring the National Transatlantic Conference, keynote speakers for which include EU commissioner for Trade Phil Hogan and Dr France Cordova — the head of the National Science Foundation in the US, one of the world’s most important figures in the area of Research and Development and former Chief Scientific Advisor to NASA.

An astrophysicist with Irish roots (her family comes from Finglas in Dublin), Dr Cordova is hailed as a hugely inspirational role model for girls considering careers in STEM.

Dr Cordova will be presented with the American Chamber of Commerce’s highest honour, the Kennedy-Lemass Medal which has been approved by both the Kennedy and Lemass families and is presented to a US citizen with Irish heritage who has significantly contributed to deeper US-Irish relations.

Previous winners include Loretta Brennan Glucksman and the late Dr. Pearse Lyons.

Cliona Murphy, Vice President for Research and Development with Pepsico will also address the conference, which says Redmond is “one of the highlights of the year,” and will also feature the US ambassador to Ireland, Edward F Crawford whose roots stretch back to Cork, as well as the Irish Ambassador to the US Dan Mulhall.

In the meantime, observes Redmond, the Chamber’s eyes are focused on the results of the general election:

“For us a key priority when the new government in in place is to engage with it early on to emphasise the critical importance of a speedy implementation of the infrastructure physical and digital!

“We want to ensure that there is a balanced regional development and that all regions should have that critical infrastructure in place to increase job creation — in terms of traffic infrastructure and air connectivity and broadband."

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