IDA boss: We want finance firms to set up in the midlands once they have a Dublin base

Martin Shanahan also wants to build up pharma and med-tech in the region.

By Paul O'Donoghue Reporter, Fora

IRELAND’S FOREIGN DEVELOPMENT agency is trying to get companies that may be relocating to Ireland as a result of Brexit to set up operations outside of Dublin.

The IDA today announced strong jobs growth figures in its client companies. Multinational businesses supported by the organisation now employ more than 210,000 people.

This compared to about 200,000 people employed at IDA client companies the year before.

Job gains in 2017 were up on 2016, at almost 20,000 compared to 18,600 the previous year, however job losses showed a fairly large jump, from 6,800 to just under 9,200.

There were several reasons for this, according to IDA boss Martin Shanahan. He said that there had been an abnormally low number of job losses in 2016, and it had been expected that they would rise in 2017.

He also said that many of the losses were clustered in certain companies or industries, citing computer manufacturing.

“The losses we have seen this year are concentrated to a small number of companies,” he said.

“The only sector that has decreased is computer equipment. What’s driving that and some of the losses is the transition from traditional computer hardware.”

He gave the example of computer giant HP, which announced last year that it was cutting hundreds of jobs at its Leixlip operations.

Shanahan said the IDA was aiming to attract more foreign investment to the border and midlands, the two regions in Ireland that saw the lowest jobs growth in 2017.

Border and midlands

The border region has 11,500 jobs at IDA client companies, up 4% on 2016, while the midlands has just over 4,300, up 1%.

Shanahan said the two regions now need to sharply focus on key industries, like engineering, in which they can win jobs.

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He also said he hopes more companies will invest in Ireland as a result of Brexit. While companies that do move here are likely to choose Dublin as a main base, Shanahan said the IDA will be encouraging them to set up some operations in areas like the border and midlands.

“In the midlands, manufacturing and engineering are definitely options. We already have pharma and med-tech in that region, we’d like to try and build that out,” he said.

“As a result of Brexit, on the financial services side, we see investments coming to Dublin, but we would be targeting second-site solutions once they have established in Dublin. I think that presents an opportunity (for the regions).”

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