Martin Shanahan, CEO, IDA Ireland (centre), Shannon Chamber president Eoin Gavin (left) and CEO Helen Downes (right) pictured with students and teachers from St Patrick's Comprehensive School Shannon,
Despite an unprecedented amount of change experienced in the past two years linked to the United Kingdom exiting the EU, a global pandemic, considerable geopolitical uncertainly, changes in global corporate tax regimes, inflationary pressures and supply chain issues, Ireland has continued to win a significant amount of foreign direct investment (FDI) and companies already operating from Ireland have not missed a beat.
That was the view of IDA Ireland CEO Martin Shanahan when he addressed a gathering of businesspeople from across the region at a Shannon Chamber luncheon in Dromoland Castle Hotel. The lunch was supported by Fine Grain Property, which operates an expansive portfolio of property throughout Ireland, including six buildings in the Mid-West region, at the National Technology Park in Limerick and in Westpark Shannon.
In his address, Mr Shanahan stated that Ireland increased its market share of FDI coming into Europe during the pandemic, largely due to the sectors IDA Ireland has targeted over many years – technology, pharma, medical devices, international financial services, business services, engineering, and food.
“Investing energies into sectors that underpin a modern economy has proved to be the right decision. Ireland ranked seventh in Europe for announced projects in 2021, an astonishing good performance for a country of Ireland’s size,” Mr Shanahan stated.
Direct employment in the 1,700 FDI companies supported by IDA Ireland rose to 275,000; 249 projects came into Ireland last year, 53% for locations outside Dublin. There are 150 IDA client companies in the Mid-West region employing over 25,000 people. Close to 7,000 are employed in the 71 multinationals in Co Clare – an increase of 27% in the last five years.
“Driving regional investment is a core part of IDA strategy and in line with the Government’s overall regional plans,” Mr Shanahan said.
Commenting on the strong flow of investment that has come into Ireland over the last number of years, Mr Shanahan said that this is expected to continue given the positive figures for the first six months of the year.
He did caution that IDA Ireland is not oblivious to the fact that we are operating in a world that is less stable and less secure, with costs and inflation increasing and that there are some domestic infrastructural issues such as energy, water, wastewater, and planning that need to be addressed for Ireland to remain competitive.
Referring to the changed operating models that companies now operate he pointed to the opportunities this presents for regional locations that can advertise a very positive work-life balance.
The future of the city is not over, however, with Mr Shanahan adding that there will still be city locations that will prove very attractive and office buildings will still be required to drive culture and to onboard staff.
With digitalisation and sustainability gaining momentum in investment discussions, and talent, resilience and policy stability a key determinant in a country’s selection as an investment location, Mr Shanahan commented favourably on Ireland’s talent landscape.
“Ireland does well in relation to talent availability because of the output of our education system which is very aligned to the needs of enterprise. We are a small county; we will never have enough output and that is why Ireland remains open to attracting talent from abroad. That sets Ireland apart,” he added.
Thanking the significant eco system of well-established global companies across multiple sectors that operate in Shannon and the Mid-West for their investment, Mr Shanahan told a table of students from St Patrick’s Comprehensive School in Shannon, who attended the lunch as guests of Dromoland Castle Hotel, that these companies would be vying for their talent in the years ahead. He advised them not to box themselves in a corner but to realise that they might have multiple careers in their lifetime
“The idea of a career for life is well past,” he said.
Shannon Chamber president Eoin Gavin outlining the many attributes accruing to Shannon and the Mid-West as an investment location - the proximity to Shannon Airport, the expansive and technologically advanced property portfolio at Shannon Free Zone and Westpark and the high level of collaboration between companies, said that Shannon Chamber looks forward to seeing Shannon co Clare and the wider region securing new investment through IDA. He assured Mr Shanahan that the Chamber will play a key role in projecting these attributes to prospecting investors.
Fine Grain Property CEO Colin McDonald, whose 15 properties across Ireland are home to 60 clients, a mix of IDA Ireland clients and indigenous companies that employ over 6,000 people, reiterated the importance of keeping abreast of industry trends and client needs.
With eighty per cent of Fine Grain’s locations outside Dublin, very much in line with the strategy for regional development, and planning permission secured for an additional 300,000 sq. ft. of space at Westpark, McDonald said that operational environment for the enterprises of the future must enable innovation, facilitate social interaction, and be sustainably built.”
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