The world and its mother knows that US investment into Ireland has been not just a boon for the domestic economy and tens of thousands of grateful employees and communities in the past 50 years — but Ireland has shown its close business ally that the relationship works both ways.
It may come as a surprise to many just how Ireland punches well above its size and weight class when it comes to investing in business in the US.
Irish businesses are creating thousands of jobs for Americans as well as Irish people in the US, and it is being gratefully received in the current administration.
Ireland is the ninth largest foreign direct investor into the US, according to acting US ambassador to Ireland, Reece Smyth.
“Enterprise Ireland statistics show 80,000 jobs were created by Irish companies in 2017 in the US. In 2018 they’re talking about 100,000. That is huge. What is changing is the investment into Ireland from the US is now becoming a two-way street. It is to the mutual benefit of both countries,” he said.
The US wants more of that investment because the countries are simpatico and work so well together, the chargé d’affaires said.
Mr Smyth has said the embassy was working with Enterprise Ireland to bring more inward Irish investment to the US following record years in 2017 and 2018.
It is not just the traditional Irish outposts of Boston, New York, Chicago and San Francisco that are open for Irish business, he said.
“When people are looking at the US, a lot of focus is on maybe Boston or Chicago. However, we have a vast country, there are a lot of opportunities out there. We have set up an office in the embassy which is working closely with Enterprise Ireland and what we can offer large and small firms to carry out business in the US. We can help wade through some of the state regulations, make contacts, and more.”
Chief executive of Texan cybersecurity firm Forcepoint, which opened a Cork office with 100 jobs last year, said states like Texas, Wisconsin, and Iowa had huge opportunities for Irish business, especially in tech.
Matt Moynahan said: “You are seeing the US change. We now have Silicon Alley in New York, every state is trying to expand, particularly with cloud.”
As well as tech, Irish companies like Glanbia and Kerry Group have a huge presence in the US, especially in the heartland.
One of the most recognisable companies in Ireland, Glanbia has carved out a major slice of the pie in the US.
Glanbia’s US operations include its Performance Nutrition business which has manufacturing facilities, an innovation centre and business offices in the Chicago region.
Glanbia-owned Optimum Nutrition is behind the best-selling whey protein powder in the world, selling millions of tubs of its various flavours to fitness enthusiasts, bodybuilders, athletes and regular folks looking to lose fat.
With its state-of-the-art production facilities located in Aurora, Illinois; Walterboro, South Carolina; and Sunrise, Florida, Optimum Nutrition is one of the few sports nutrition companies to manufacture in every product category.
Optimum Nutrition products can be found throughout the US in nearly 10,000 speciality retail stores, gyms and fitness centres as well as major grocery chains and drug stores. Its products are also distributed in over 70 countries worldwide.
Glanbia Nutritionals has major facilities including a cheese innovation centre and manufacturing operations in Idaho with additional presence in Chicago, California, South Dakota.
Kerry, already a major employer in the likes of Wisconsin, was on the acquisition trail as recently as December, enhancing its so-called “green label” strategy — a focus on natural ingredients.
The firm said it would buy two food seasoning firms in the US for €325m that it says will enhance its group of natural ingredient firms.
Kerry said it was to buy Virginia-based savoury seasoning firm Ariake USA, the north American business of Ariake Japan, as well as the north American coatings and seasonings business of Southeastern Mills, based in Georgia.
Clean label refers to natural ingredients and minimally processed foods which replaces flavours, colouring, preservatives and sweeteners with healthier alternatives where possible.
The Georgia-based Southeastern Mills business, which manufactures coatings and seasonings, would enhance its offering in meat seasoning, Kerry said.
Southeastern Mills manufactures coatings, food bases and gravy, baking and seasoning mixes and serves processors, restaurants and food-service distributors in north America.
Perhaps one of the earliest and most enduring success stories involving Irish investment into the US is a tale from Kentucky, where the late great Pearse Lyons established Alltech.
Founded in 1980 by the Irish biochemist and entrepreneur, Alltech is a leading global biotechnology company whose mission is to improve the health and performance of people, animals and plants through natural nutrition and scientific innovation.
The International Animal Health Journal sat down with our CEO and president, @mpl17, as well as Alric Blake, our Chief Operating Officer, to learn about Alltech’s place in the animal health industry, and our goals for the future. https://t.co/eGVitEk43L pic.twitter.com/IuCIPJ1dh8— Alltech (@Alltech) February 3, 2019
Its core business improves animal health and performance by adding nutritional value to feed naturally through Alltech’s innovative use of yeast fermentation, enzyme technology, algae and nutrigenomics, which studies the impact of nutrition at the genetic level.
Its technologies and support programs enable farmers to realise greater efficiency, profitability and sustainability on their farms.
Headquartered in Kentucky, Alltech trades in 128 countries worldwide and has more than 4,700 employees. Alltech has 77 production facilities strategically positioned across the globe and three bioscience centres dedicated to research and education, with two located in the US and one in Ireland.
It is the only privately held and family-owned business among the top ten animal health companies in the world.
Dundalk native Lyons died in March last year, leaving a legacy in the South that will be remembered for generations among his business and community peers.
Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell remembered a business leader, a scientist and innovator that put Kentucky on the global map for its agri-innovation.
“For the Lyons family, Kentucky is an adoptive home, and I think I can speak on behalf of all Kentuckians when I say that we are glad he chose to build his life and business here,” Mr McConnell said.