DESPITE the growing uncertainty of Brexit and a lack of quality office space in the city, Limerick is expected to continue its job creation record with upwards of 16 firms set to establish or expand their operations in the region this year.
With the IDA end of year report showing that 1,516 jobs supported by the industrial development agency were created in the Mid West during 2016, its Business Development Manager Niall O’Callaghan said he expects a similar return during 2017.
Mr O’Callaghan told the Limerick Post that 16 significant investments were already earmarked for the region where “new names will enter the market, existing firms will expand or companies will invest in R&D facilities”.
“Last year, the Mid West was the fastest growing region in the country with 1,516 new jobs created in companies supported by the IDA. This was up from the 2015 net figure and brings the total of IDA supported jobs to more than 17,000 in the region.
“However now is not a time for complacency, as the region needs to work with all stakeholders to continue our collaborative efforts this year. We have a strategy through to 2019 and we have a set of achievable targets that we are aiming to hit”.
“Challenges still exist for the region as we are competing in an international market and vying for those investments with big players.
The unknown effects of Brexit will present new challenges and Mr O’Callaghan also reiterated concerns over the lack of quality office space in Limerick city.
“A number of new builds and redevelopments have been announced and we welcomed that, however that quality office space will not become available until the first quarter of 2018 and that’s a challenge because whatever space is currently available is either too small or too old.
“We need to make a strong business case to attract more international connectivity to Shannon Airport. A direct route to the likes of Amsterdam would seriously help our attractiveness for foreign direct investment.”
Citing some of the marquee 2016 jobs announcements, Mr O’Callaghan said that the arrival of internationally renowned med-tech firm Becton and Dickinson was a huge boost.
“They have set up their R&D centre of excellence here and ACI establishing their international payments data centre in Limerick, are huge boosts for us in their respective industries. These announcements bolster our selling portfolio,” Mr O’Callaghan said.
The IDA report showed that total employment at overseas companies now stands at 199,877 and last year they supported the creation of 18,627 jobs nationally.
On the publication of the report this Tuesday, IDA Ireland CEO, Martin Shanahan said: “that the fact companies have continued to invest in Ireland is testament to the quality of the offering we have here. That being said – we absolutely cannot be complacent about this success – we have to keep an eye on our competitiveness including costs.
“The contribution of the FDI sector has always been important to Ireland, but the 2016 results show that the contribution has never been greater. It is particularly welcome to see such a broad-based performance and all regions growing. International Services, Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices and Financial Services all showed significant employment increases in 2016.”
“The arrival of Fazzi Healthcare Services establishing a new Irish based coding and healthcare services company in Limerick and creating 300 jobs over the next five years was earmarked in the report as one of the standout announcements,” Mr Shanahan said.
In 2016, the Mid West outperformed all other regions in the country, including Dublin and the Mid East in terms of its growth rate which was recorded at ten per cent.