Cork has the highest number of vacant IDA sites in Ireland. One fifth of all idle advance factories are in the county.
There are 104 sites available nationwide to prospective investors, say the IDA, the state body responsible for attracting foreign direct investment to the Republic.
19 of the sites are in Cork, including five in Cork City. There are also two each in Fermoy, Youghal, Carrigtwohill, and Kanturk.
Forty-nine potential investors visited IDA sites in Cork last year. Galway has 12 vacant sites, the next highest number, followed by Dublin, with seven, and Donegal and Leitrim, with six each. Clare is the only county with no IDA sites vacant.
The figures were provided by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation, Frances Fitzgerald, in response to a parliamentary question by Social Democrats TD, Catherine Murphy.
The Kildare North TD has called on the IDA to make their vacant premises available to local authorities to facilitate domestic startup businesses.
The minister said the IDA had not rented its properties to local authorities for uses other than their original purpose.
Although Ms Murphy asked how long the IDA sites were vacant, Ms Fitzgerald said such details were not made available, as they were “commercially sensitive.”
The Social Democrats co-founder said she was “surprised” at the large number of vacant IDA sites around the country. “It’s great, if there is something in the pipeline for these IDA sites, but, if not, we should explore it. There are other uses that could be made of them,” said Ms Murphy.
Local Enterprise Offices often struggle to find space for small start-up businesses.
IDA has targeted an increase of 30% to 40% in foreign direct investment, in every region outside Dublin, by 2019. 173 site visits were recorded in the first quarter of 2017 — a 20% increase over the corresponding period last year.
The Department of Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation said that acquiring investment is dependent on an array of factors, including the suitability of the infrastructure and proximity to transport hubs.
The ready availability of suitable properties is a key consideration for investors, which is why the IDA needs an adequate supply of marketable, serviced land and buildings which can be offered to them.
“If the agency did not have such properties available for investment, it would diminish Ireland’s availability to win mobile foreign direct investment,” said the department.
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