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Cork 2020: Starting a bright new decade of investment

Cork 2020: Starting a bright new decade of investment
Sustainability and connectivity will remain key issues for foreign investment clients, say analysts at Matheson

Matheson is an award- winning Irish law firm headquartered in Dublin with offices in Cork, London, New York, Palo Alto, and San Francisco.

With over 30 practice areas, the firm serves the legal needs of international clients and Irish clients with an international focus.

As we enter a new decade, Ireland is faced once more with the twin prospects of opportunity and challenge on the investment landscape for the years ahead.

As the country continues its journey as a leading location for foreign direct investment we will see how FDI customers judge such reactions.

If we consider in that context the developments, opportunities, and challenges facing business in the Munster region, first and foremost, there is a proud, strong, and resilient FDI tradition in Cork, Limerick, Kerry, Waterford, and Tipperary, evidenced by the long-standing presence of large multinationals in pharma, manufacturing, and information technology, for example.

The desire to invest in the region can be attributed to a number of consistent pull factors, such as access to an educated and skilled labour force, cost of living, infrastructure, and connectivity.

However, one of the lesser discussed points is the success of Cork and other parts of Munster in its ability to champion growth from within.

While multinationals have established a critical presence in the region, it is the resulting business environment that has in so many ways enabled them collectively to expand, develop, and consolidate their foothold which in turn fosters and promotes wider opportunities for other businesses.

In the coming years, it will be critical that both FDI and domestic champions continue the journey in that context to allow Ireland to retain the leading role it has rightly earned as an FDI location.

Matheson was the first of the largest Irish law firms to establish an office in the Munster region in addition to its Dublin office.

Pat English, Corporate partner, Matheson
Pat English, Corporate partner, Matheson

A hub for many of the world’s leading life sciences, med-tech, financial services, ITC, and cybersecurity businesses, Cork is also home to many domestic Irish companies with an international focus.

Proximity to leading companies, combined with an ability to attract and retain top legal talent in the Munster region, were key factors in the firm’s decision to establish our Cork office.

Led by Gráinne Callanan, our Cork office recently appointed data privacy and employment law specialist Deirdre Crowley and her team, as part of the firm’s growth strategy.

Matheson presently acts for over 60% of FDI member companies of the American Chamber of Commerce located in Cork.

Cork remains a very attractive location for the FDI investor. At the last census, the population stood at just over 417,000 and continues to rise.

According to IDA statistics, there are over 150 overseas companies operating in Cork, including up to 50 global technology companies, and eight of the top 10 global pharma companies.

More than 35,000 people are employed in the region by these companies.

There are over 50 commercial research hubs, 17 international headquarters, and nine business incubators.

Success will always breed competition, and Ireland must be ready for continuing international competition and the effects of domestic and international developments.

Pat English, of Matheson; Patrick O'Shea, President, UCC; Mary Buckley, Executive Director, IDA Ireland and Mark Gantly, President, American Chamber of Commerce Ireland. Picture: Larry Cummins
Pat English, of Matheson; Patrick O'Shea, President, UCC; Mary Buckley, Executive Director, IDA Ireland and Mark Gantly, President, American Chamber of Commerce Ireland. Picture: Larry Cummins

In a review of its 2015-2019 investment strategy, the IDA rightly highlighted such risks, citing the possibility for economic correction in key source markets, continued trade tensions, subdued global economic growth, and domestic challenges related to competitiveness and the carrying capacity of the economy.

We can see all of this being evaluated by our leading FDI clients on an ongoing basis as one would expect in terms of developing and implementing global policy and strategy.

This all goes to the very heart of the focus required from all FDI stakeholders to ensure that Ireland remains as agile and as attractive as it can be from an investor perspective.

Risks inevitably prevail but so do potential rewards and more than most, Ireland is very actively conscious of the risk and reward spectrum.

We must remain proactive and positive, commercial and pragmatic while measured and sensible.

With Cork set to become the fastest-growing city in the State over the next 20 years, we remain very optimistic about future prospects and growth in the region.

There will be challenges so continuous investment in infrastructure will be absolutely critical, as will ongoing digital transformation and technology developments that enable companies to locate employees in the area and still work directly and indirectly at a global level.

At Matheson, we are readily equipped to meet existing and future client requirements and we look forward very much in that context to being part of the business and investor community in the Cork and wider Munster region in the years ahead as it continues to build out on its success to date towards the next level.

  • Pat English is a corporate partner at Matheson and Head of the firm’s International Business Group.

    matheson.com

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