A stronger emphasis on broadening the regional spread of incoming multinational jobs and investment will be a key focus for IDA Ireland next year, its new chairman, Frank Ryan, said yesterday.
Addressing the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mr Ryan said the agency has to “establish what type of FDI [foreign direct investment] we can realistically attract to regional areas”, adding that one of his visions will be to build Ireland’s global reputation as an research and development& hub.
“A key objective, in 2014, will be to continue to win FDI against increasing global competitiveness, which is intensifying,” he added.
Mr Ryan — the recently retired CEO of Enterprise Ireland — was formally unveiled as IDA chairman designate yesterday. He replaces Liam O’Mahony in the role.
He said global competition is becoming “a very big challenge”, but said there exists an opportunity for multinationals to mentor Irish firms; adding that Ireland has nothing to answer for regarding its tax system, which is “very transparent” and “a central part of economic policy”.
One of the main lines of questioning from the committee related to a perceived “slip” in the IDA’s regional focus.
Sinn Féin senator David Cullinane complained about the body’s regional presence in the South-East in particular.
IDA chief, Barry O’Leary — also addressing the committee — replied that the agency has 10 offices around Ireland and 19 globally. He noted that four staff man a regional base in Waterford; but said the need for more regional directors in Ireland isn’t as vital as the need for more people in the global marketplace generating in- bound business for the country.
Mr O’Leary is due to retire from the IDA next year, and Mr Ryan said he will be “particularly hard to replace”, adding that the search for a new CEO will begin in the coming months.
Mr O’Leary added that there is a strong pipeline of investment and job announcements in place, not just aimed at Dublin.
Mr Ryan also noted that 2014 will be the final year of the current chapter of the IDA’s Horizon 2020 strategy, allowing for fresh strategic scope for 2015 to 2019.
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