IDA boss, Enda McLoughlin, says the Mid West evolution will continue

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IDA Mid West regional manager Enda McLoughlin. Picture: Cian Reinhardt
IDA Mid West regional manager Enda McLoughlin. Picture: Cian Reinhardt

RECENTLY appointed IDA Mid West manager Enda McLoughlin believes that the region should celebrate its achievements so as to enhance what can be achieved in the future.

The Tipperary native who took over the role six months ago said that the IDA is aware that the pressure is on to get more companies into the region.

Stating that the region has achieved a great deal in terms of recovery and development over the past five years, he explained that what was scheduled to be achieved over a five-year time span was actually achieved in three years.

“The idea behind our 2014-2019 strategy was to get 209,000 people employed by multinational companies in Ireland and that has been reached surpassed to 210,000.

“One of my colleagues recently said that if you stand still, you are going backwards and that is very much the driving force in attracting new foreign direct investment to Ireland.

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“We have to drive on. We can’t be complacent. We must remain competitive and understand what is needed to further drive employment in this region.

“What is interesting is that the employment associated with multinational companies in the Mid West stands at 5.3 per cent while the national average is 2.3 per cent. That shows the impact of companies such as Cook Medical, Zimmer and the fantastic input that they have in the region.

“So when it was announced that Edwards LifeSciences was establishing a new base in the Mid West, I was asked if was it going to be in Limerick, Clare or North Tipperary.

“The actual answer to that was Ireland as the deal was 15 years in the making. That’s what is important – that Ireland is winning.

Referring to the economies of scale, Enda McLoughlin said that he has worked in Kazakstan and most Irish people found it difficult to believe that it is bigger than all of Western Europe.

“A delegation from Indonesia visited the Mid West region recently and they were impressed with our record in attracting foreign direct investment. This was even more remarkable when it is considered that they have a population of 260 million and we have 4.5 million or thereabouts.

“As an island, we operate as a cluster where we can develop the likes of medical technology and the idea is not to try to differentiate ourselves by county or region. We are Ireland Inc and everywhere is connected.

With road networks joining the regions, we should be working together to develop the incredible eco-system that is working here throughout the island whether it is through the Universities, the business, all the various different types organisations and government bodies. It is incredibly important that we further nurture the development of industry here in Ireland.

“Competition in attracting companies to both the region and the country is increasing. Employment growth is continuously rising but it is becoming more and more competitive.

“So we have to look to see what is the ‘secret sauce’ to Ireland’s continuing success.

“In my view, that is talent and we need to continuously develop talent to support industries.

“If you look at 2017, more than 237 major projects were announced from FDI companies. 111 of them were new names. What we are achieving here is absolutely phenomenal on a world stage.

The IDA boss said that these FDIs were not just coming from the US, but also from mainland Europe, Australia, Asia and the Middle East. This was mainly because they were aware of the value of investing in Ireland.

“The Mid West has done phenomenally well in the last number of years and that is due to the companies that are already here vouching for the region.

“FDI companies in the region contribute up to 10 per cent to the economy, which equates to a figure in the region of €12 billion.

In terms of the medtech sector, not only have we major employers in the region but they are household names.”

“When you look at the announcement of Edwards LifeSciences, it was actually the largest announcement of any company since Apple came to Ireland in the 1980s. No other company has committed 600 jobs to Ireland from their first days here.

“Certain sectors are developing and focusing on research and development. It is important that talent is developed to stay ahead of the curve at all times.

“What is also important is that FDI and multinational companies must realise that we can have globally shared services here in Ireland such as financial, payroll and HR services.

“This can be offered to the rest of the world from Ireland. We can expand the employment database and that is one of the most important legacies that these companies can offer.

“The ecosystem which companies can build around is very strong here and that is hugely important and attractive for FDIs.Essentially, Ireland needs to think smart to succeed.

“Even more significant is the fact that these companies are thinking outside the usual parameters and seeing where they can utilise the services of local companies.

“One pharmaceutical company realised that warehousing was holding up to 75,000 sq ft of their available space so they contracted this out to a local company who specialised in this work and freed up space which in turn allowed projects come into Ireland. That’s how companies are thinking and that’s how we can win.

“These opportunities come in cycles and we need to respond to that.

“What sets Ireland apart from the competition is not just the favourable corporate tax rate, not just the cities and clusters but it is very much our track record in what we have achieved and how we have achieved it.

“It is very much our talent, the skills and the availability of that talent.

“Companies won’t come here unless there is an adequate supply of skilled people who are open to innovation and job ready. It is also about connected research, the third level institutes and the resources here.

“Our role within the IDA is to support these companies while they are here”, Mr Enda McLoughlin concluded.

This interview is part of the Limerick Post Mid-West Industry special, read more of the special feature content here.

Read more business news here.