The department yesterday confirmed Minister Batt O’Keeffe had met with the group behind the €4.7 billion proposal in May to receive a briefing.
Cork-based pharmaceutical company, Pharmadel, are the main drivers of the project, which it is hoped will be completed by 2012.
According to its website the “global pharmaceutical centre of excellence” in Tralee will offer the “largest single employment placements on the island of Ireland” and the “largest research and development centre in the world”.
It’s understood that the former Amann and Klopman sites in the town are being considered as locations. If the project were to succeed it would increase the population of Tralee by 22%.
The plan envisages jobs for 116 leading academic professionals, 321 corporate management executives and 4,380 graduates.
The website for the project gives a projected opening date of September 3, 2012, “subject to full environmental, planning and legal compliant regulation”.
As details of the project began to emerge yesterday those behind it were forced to go public with a short statement in which they said: “We would like to confirm we are engaged in ongoing negotiations to secure the Global Pharmaceutical Centre of Excellence for Tralee. It is a long and difficult process and it shall be up to three months before we can announce a conclusive outcome.”
Pharmadel director, former Fine Gael leader Alan Dukes, told the Irish Examiner he had been involved in the project but said it was only at an early stage.
He did, however, confirm the initiative could create more than 4,800 jobs.
Pre-planning meetings have already been held with Tralee Town Council.