State-owned Shannon Group yesterday started a €21m redevelopment of the airport’s industrial park to attract more international companies.
There are already 120 multinational companies in the 600-acre Shannon Free Zone employing more than 7,000 people.
It was the world’s first free trade zone when it was opened in 1959.
The five-year programme now being embarked on by the group’s property company, Shannon Commercial Properties Ltd, involves the construction of advance manufacturing units and office blocks as well as the upgrade of some of its existing core assets.
The investment is focussed on building advanced manufacturing, warehousing and office space which will help state development agencies attract new companies.
The €21m first phase over the next two years, which will support more than 250 construction-related jobs, includes the redevelopment of a 12-acre site.
As part of the initial phase of development on this site, two projects are planned at a combined cost of in excess €10m.
These include a 40,000 sq ft Grade A office block and a 30,000 sq ft advance technology manufacturing unit.
Work on the 12-acre site has already begun with the demolition of three former manufacturing buildings and planning applications for the two new buildings are due to be submitted shortly.
Other key projects in the first development phase include a 67,000 sq ft technology manufacturing facility at Shannon Free Zone East at a cost of €6m.
Work on this project has just commenced.
A €4m upgrade and development of an existing 100,000 sq ft warehousing unit in the zone adjoining airport lands is set to commence later this year.
A €1.3m refurbishment of a 56,000 sq ft office and warehousing facility located in the Shannon Free Zone West is now complete.
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said: “This is a strategic investment not just in Shannon but in the wider region. It’s a hugely important piece in the jigsaw for the region and having these advanced, modern facilities so close to an international airport further enhances their attractiveness.
"It’s a progressive move by the Shannon Group, which has clearly hit the ground running on its establishment last autumn, and bodes very well for the future.”
Shannon Group chief executive Neil Pakey said the investment will see the stock of facilities in the Shannon Free Zone significantly enhanced.
”It sends a clear signal from the Shannon Group to the market and potential investors that we are creating quality space for businesses and this, in turn, will help attract significant investment and jobs into this region.”
Shannon Group chairman Rose Hynes said the investment is in line with the strategy to redevelop Shannon Free Zone and the company’s wider property portfolio.
She said: “It will give the Shannon Free Zone a competitive edge in the national and international marketplace.
"Together with our international airport, an available pool of highly skilled third level graduates, a strong motorway network and high quality of life in the west of Ireland, the Shannon Free Zone is an extremely attractive proposition for investors. This investment will serve as a catalyst to help create a further wave of employment here.”
Ray O’Driscoll, of Shannon Properties said the Shannon Free Zone now has 120 companies in a diverse range of activities.
“It has been a huge contributor to the local economy since it was established in 1959 and this first phase of what will be a major, ongoing investment programme will bring these facilities, many of which were constructed prior to 1990, up to 21st century standards.
“This is an imperative to attracting major investment and jobs to the area.”
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