Latest IDA site visit data raise regional concerns

There was an increase in overall visits from prospective foreign investment companies to IDA sites in 2016 — but a drop in such visits in Munster, writes Pádraig Hoare.

The percentage of site visits going to the Greater Dublin area increased from 47% to 48% in 2016, with the number in Dublin City and county themselves increasing from 43% to 45%.

However, while the number of visits to Cork, Limerick and Clare increased, the overall number of site visits to Munster dropped with 149 being recorded in 2015 versus 144 in 2016.

Fianna Fáil spokesperson for enterprise and jobs, Niall Collins, said the drop in visits to Kerry, Tipperary and Waterford made a mockery of government policy of rejuvenating the regions and that Dublin was still favoured.

He said: “Three of the six counties in Munster have seen a year-on-year reduction in the number of site visits facilitated by the IDA. The counties with the drops are the counties with the biggest need for investment — Kerry, Tipperary and Waterford.”

IDA client companies created 18,627 jobs in 2016 across a range of sectors, with every region of Ireland posting net employment gains. Visits increased to 638 in 2016 from 565 in 2015. Kerry had just three site visits, down from six, Waterford went from 31 to 17 and Tipperary went from 12 to eight.

By contrast, Dublin visits increased from 242 in 2015 to 284 in 2016, Carlow went from one to nine and Westmeath 28 to 36.

An IDA spokesperson told the Irish Examiner that site visits only were not an accurate reflection of the bigger picture on promoting destinations to FDA.

He said: “It should be borne in mind that site visit activity is not the only evidence, nor is it a true reflection of IDA’s marketing activity in any region. It should also be considered that companies often visit a number of different locations in Ireland during visits. The decision by a company on ultimate locations is influenced by a number of factors, the most important considerations being access to qualified talent, the availability of property solutions, proximity to transport hubs and the availability of business support services.”

This article first appeared in the Irish Examiner.

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