Significant attention will be paid, by IDA Ireland, to dispersing incoming foreign investment around regional areas, outside of Dublin and Cork, over the next five years.
The IDA is due to publish a fresh inward investment blueprint plan, for the next five years, in the coming weeks.
Speaking yesterday at the publication of the development agency’s end-of-year report for 2014, new chief executive Martin Shanahan said more attention would be given to promoting a broader regional spread of foreign direct investment (FDI), but noted a 7% increase — to 37% — in the level of investment being made outside of the main two cities in 2014, the best performance of the past five years.
In the first half of its separate Horizon 2020 plan, the IDA met its growth targets for areas such as new investment, job growth, new markets and R&D spend. However, Mr Shanahan said the original 2010 target to have 50% of new investment to be located outside of Dublin and Cork by now (the true figure is just over 30%) had been “ambitious”.
He said challenges still remain for regional growth — but that high-profile investments, last year, from the likes of Jazz Pharmaceuticals, ClearStream Technologies and others in areas like Roscommon, Waterford, Louth, Westmeath and Wexford —provide hope.
Overall, the IDA yesterday reported a near 1% annualised rise — to 7,131 — in terms of net employment increase from overseas firms for 2014; the highest level in a decade. Gross job creation was 15,012; up by over 12% on 2013; but the number of job losses from affiliated firms was also higher — going from almost 6,300 to 7,881.
That was still the lowest job loss level for a decade. Mr Shanahan said this year the job loss figure is likely to be higher, but only because Ireland’s portfolio of foreign firms is growing. Job gains are still outpacing losses, he said, and any loss figure is “a feature of a modern economy”.
Yesterday’s figures also showed 197 overseas company investments were made in Ireland last year; a 20% annual increase and a record high. A 13% increase was also noted in firms investing here for the first time, with 88 doing so and total employment at IDA client firms now stands at 174,488, the highest level in the agency’s history. Investment and job growth was evenly spread across sectors, with life sciences, digital media, IT and financial services leading the way.
“Our focus is real jobs, real companies and real economic impact, and in that context 2014 was a very successful year,” Mr Shanahan said, adding “noticeable gains” for the wider domestic economy are being seen from incoming investments.
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