IDA Business Park Portlaoise.
A Dáil reply has revealed starkly the huge gap between Laois and another midland county when it comes the lucrative jobs created by companies that have set up shop in Ireland.
Labour TD for Longford, Westmeath, Willie Penrose, has issued a statement calling on the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation and the IDA, to redouble efforts to secure a significant industry for a 22.5 hectare IDA Business and Technology park in Mullingar.
He raised the issue in the Dáil. In her reply Minister Heather Humphreys said IDA Ireland markets Mullingar and Athlone as part of the Midlands Region, which includes three other counties: Longford, Laois and Offaly.
While Laois is near the bottom the national pile for foreign direct investment (FDI), the Minister said Westmeath has a 'strong base'.
"There are 30 multinational companies based in the region, employing 4,280 people across all four counties. Co Westmeath has a strong base of FDI with 13 companies employing 2,571 people," she said.
The reply said the IDA is determined to increase those numbers and it has appointed a dedicated Regional Manager to the region to further aid its efforts to grow investment in the wider area.
The reply said there have been 47 site visits to the Midlands to the end of September. She said the IDA does not provide details on the specific locations visits on account of 'commercial sensitivity'.
Minster Humphreys said there is a 22.5 hectare IDA Ireland business and technology park located in Marlinstown, Co Westmeath. It is fully zoned and serviced and is currently home to one IDA client company, an engineering and industrial firm which employs approximately 40 people at the site.
The IDA said it is also investing directly in property solutions for FDI in the Midlands and has received planning permission for one office building in Athlone, which should be ready for occupation in 2018. This is in addition to an advanced technology building which is now occupied by a pharmaceutical company.
The IDA has a 41,990 sq ft building available in Athlone and a 25,200 sq ft facility available in Mullingar.
The IDA's chief exexutive is due to visit Portlaoise in January.