Cork greenfield development ‘lacking’

Ireland has an infrastructure constraint that is hampering regions such as Cork in continuing to attract multinational companies to our shores.

Available greenfield sites need to be better utilised to attract industry, said Cork Chamber of Commerce president Barrie O’Connell. Delivering his first address as president at the chamber business breakfast yesterday, Mr O’Connell said Cork had not seen a greenfield development for years.

“In the last six or seven years in Cork we haven’t had a new greenfield site development in the advanced manufacturing area; no one new has come in.

“There’s a lot of reinvestment [from multinationals], there’s a lot of information and communications technology companies but in advanced manufacturing section we haven’t had one,” Mr O’Connell said.

The 130-acre, IDA-owned site in Carrigtwohill once earmarked as the proposed European headquarters of US biotechnology giant Amgen is among those that could be used to attract further foreign direct investment to the region.

The US firm shelved plans to set-up its European operations at the east Cork site a number of years ago amid a large-scale restructuring programme. The decision in 2009 was seen as a major blow to the region and was confirmed last year when Amgen said it had no plans to resurrect the €820m plant which had potential to create up to 1,100.

The IDA initially indicated that Amgen would retain ownership of the site should circumstances change but ownership has since returned to the IDA. In addition to Ireland’s taxes, talent, track record and technology heralded by business leaders and Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the past, ‘timing’ also needs to be considered, Mr O’Connell added.

The fifth factor relates to the length of time it takes foreign direct investment companies to come to market and is an area the country needs to improve on.

The president encouraged all relevant parties in the region to work together to remove the constraints hampering this process.

Also speaking at the event in the Maryborough Hotel, SolarWinds senior vice-president of finance and operations international David Owens said the Texas-headquartered company’s senior management chose Cork as its Irish base for a number of reasons.

Among those were the relatively small size city and the culture that was developing at the time in 2007.

The Cork native also lauded the impact that winning the chamber’s company of the Year award has had on SolarWinds to date saying it has helped in recruitment and boosted employees.

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