New IDA Investment Strategy sets Regions a Challenge too! 

(Is it time for a new Super Region centred on the West?)

Congratulations to IDA IRELAND on the announcement of their ambitious plans to boost Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Ireland by 40% by 2019, growing investment in each Region by a minimum of 30% to 40% and planning to create 80,000 new jobs in the process.

Currently there are over 174,000 employed in IDA client companies in Ireland, so growth of 30% to 40% would represent a significant stimulus to the Irish economy and to the recipient Regions – particularly when you factor in that every 500 FDI jobs also supports an estimated 350 indirect jobs.

The 53 page strategy document titled “Winning: Foreign Direct Investment 2015-2019” is broad-ranging and looks at the global outlook for investment; the markets and sectors of opportunity; the value proposition of Ireland and the regions and the overall growth targets. IDA Ireland is one of most respected and successful Investment Promotion and Development agencies in the world and their strategy document 2015 – 2019 is well worth reading. The file size is 7mb - You can download it here.

 

Regional Targets… and the challenge for Regions too!

The New IDA investment strategy also outlines its investment targets, Region by Region. As the document points out, it is the first time such targets have been set for each Region - a very welcome development. IDA clients in the Mid-West (Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary) employ 14,575 people. A 30% to 40% uplift in projects would result in 66 to 71 investments for the region. In the case of the West (Galway, Mayo, Roscommon), IDA clients employ 18,652 people; a 30% to 40% uplift in projects would result in 92 to 99 projects for the region. You can see all the Regional targets on pages 32 to 38 of the strategy document.

The strategy does set a challenge to Regions too and should be noted by all interests. As the document points out:

  • “Competition for FDI is intense and global, with virtually every country in the world actively seeking new FDI investments. Consequently, investors have many attractive location options to choose from – countries, regions and cities”.
     
  • “IDA actively incentivise and encourage Investors to consider a range of potential locations in Ireland, however, the ultimate locations selected are always decided by our clients, not by IDA Ireland”.
     
  • “Clear trends are evident in the demands of FDI investors in selecting locations, including: regions of scale with appropriate urban centres, supply of skilled people, international connectivity, energy infrastructure, telecommunications, R&D capabilities, sub-supplier and services infrastructure”.
     
  • “While FDI cannot form the sole economic development strategy for a region, it can play a huge role in increasing economic activity and reducing unemployment. However, winning such investments are a challenge and will require a concerted and continuous effort by all national and regional stakeholders. This will require greater co-operation, collaboration and integration to develop and present the strongest possible proposition to existing and future potential investors” 
     

The strategy goes on to say: “The new Regional Action Plans for regional development, announced by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation will provide a structure for all the stakeholders in each region to work together in a collaborative manner to maximise future FDI investment potential, in conjunction with other economic development objectives such as indigenous industry and tourism. IDA Ireland has set new and ambitious FDI targets for every region in the country which we view as collective targets for the stakeholders in each region to work together to achieve”. They also point out that there is an increasing trend of FDI locating in larger urban areas and that these urban centres will play an important part in attracting FDI to all regions.

 

Time for a new Super Region - establishing an Atlantic Way Economic Corridor

Understanding the challenges and the opportunities, the Atlantic Way movement has, since 1995, been advocates of the need to create a Super Region in the West – one of real scale and international significance. 

Dublin, and its surrounding counties in Midlands East (Kildare, Meath and Wicklow), is already a Super Region. 47.8% of jobs in IDA client companies reside in this area. Investment and jobs will continue to grow at pace here.

Now, imagine the creation of a new Super Region centred on the West – an ‘Atlantic Way Economic Corridor’ – a Region with a shared vision of its future, where all co-operate and collaborate to deliver on the vision and to help drive stronger economic growth and social development … including FDI. It is not difficult to imagine, and the superb new Wild Atlantic Way Tourism Initiative partly signals the way.

In our view, an ‘Atlantic Way Economic Corridor’ would be a powerful initiative and one that also responds positively to the IDA observation that “Clear trends are evident in the demands of FDI investors in selecting locations, including: regions of scale with appropriate urban centres, supply of skilled people, international connectivity, energy infrastructure, telecommunications, R&D capabilities, sub-supplier and services infrastructure”.

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