Bruton says ‘connectors’ to create 2,000 jobs

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton says 2,000 jobs will be created through the State-funded ‘connector’ scheme, which rewards individuals for bringing foreign companies to Ireland.

Deals are being finalised with 60 companies after ‘connectors’ introduced them to the IDA — the agency overseeing investment in Ireland.

Mr Bruton also said he is considering changes to tax reliefs for start-up firms.

In an interview with the Irish Examiner, he said that manufacturing would be a focus for job creation in 2014 after the sector was treated as “the poor relation” in recent years.

Mr Bruton said 11 companies, some from the US, had committed to the Connect Ireland scheme. Hundreds of jobs were created since it began in 2012.

Connectors receive €1,500 per job created, while a fee also goes to Connect Ireland, the company set up by entrepreneur Terry Clune. In total, the Government pays €4,000 per job created.

Mr Bruton said: “There are 60 companies in their pipeline. The potential for that, if they’re all delivered, runs to a couple of thousand jobs.

“We felt that this is something we should try and I think it is turning out to be worthwhile.”

He defended the fee paid to finders, adding: “When you think of one person off the dole, the saving is €20,000 per year.”

He said that jobs under the connector scheme were typically created with smaller companies and in regional areas.

“A connector is about using your connections, say through the GAA, to say you can have an intelligence network out there watching out for companies who might be looking at Europe, and 200,000 US companies look at Europe every year,” said Mr Bruton. The idea is to persuade those companies that the best place to do business in is Ireland.”

Magni Group, a US company, recently announced 50 jobs for Laois after a local — now set to get a finder’s fee of €75,000 — learnt of the scheme through the GAA.

Mr Bruton said he would look at changes to the seed capital scheme between now and next year’s finance bill. The scheme gives PAYE incentives to set up a company by allowing them claim tax relief, according to the amount invest in the start-up.

“The take up of those are low. We need to look at have we made it too complicated for people to avail of concessions that are absolutely core to building strong enterprises.”

He said that two thirds of jobs created by companies were in their first five years.

“We need to have a strong pipeline of start-ups,” said Mr Bruton.

He hoped to make the scheme simpler in same way as changes made to the JobsPlus scheme, where the state pays €1 in €4 for the cost of hiring someone.

The latest figures show there were 86 applications for the scheme in 2011 followed by just 50 in 2012.


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