IDA boss Martin Shanahan
The heads of IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland came to visit Laois on Friday February 16, and promised to up their game to attract jobs to the county.
Martin Shanahan, CEO of IDA Ireland, and Julie Sinnamon CEO of Enterprise Ireland came to County Hall for a meeting with Laois TDs Sean Fleming and Brian Stanley, Minister Charlie Flanagan’s representative Rosemary Whelan, the Chief Executive of Laois County Council John Mulholland and Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council, Cllr Padraig Fleming.
Mr Shanahan afterwards said that IDA Ireland "remains committed" to bring jobs to Laois.
“IDA Ireland remains committed to working with all stakeholders including our sister agency Enterprise Ireland to win investment for Laois and the Midlands Region and for that reason today’s engagement was extremely useful and constructive," he said.
The IDA CEO said the agency is working to increase client site visits to Laois. So far in 2018, Laois has received four site visits, compared to four visits over the whole of 2017.
The IDA will support the skills audit underway by Laois County Council, of the 11,000 people who leave Laois for work elsewhere every day.
It promised to develop new promotional online content about Laois.
"IDA will also examine ways to make its Business and Technology Park more attractive to potential investors and will make all relevant supports available to potential investors considering Laois.
“IDA will continue to work with Enterprise Ireland and Laois County Council to secure a strategic investment for available sites in Laois”, Martin Shanahan said
“A collaborative approach, with all parties working together to present the strongest possible value proposition for Laois is what will work best," he said.
The IDA has "historically not a good record" in Laois, Deputy Sean Fleming said afterwards.
"I arranged this historic meeting today... it is a good start on that road in putting Laois on the IDA map. It was the first time that there was a joint visit of the Chief Executives of the IDA and Enterprise Ireland to County Laois to discuss employment in the county. It was a constructive, productive meeting," he said.
Enterprise Ireland supports 55 companies in Laois which employ 1473 people. IDA Ireland supports just two companies in the county, with a total of 119 employees.
Julie Sinnamon, CEO of Enterprise Ireland, said they discussed plans for driving entrepreneurship, and building the scale of client companies in Laois.
Enterprise Ireland backed companies in Laois had an 8% job growth in 2017 – one of the highest levels in the country. It invested €2.5m directly in companies in Laois between 2014-2017.
"In addition, we co-funded 3 Community Enterprise Centres in Portlaoise, Portarlington, and Mountmellick and 2 projects with Laois based partners were funded under the LEO competitive fund," Ms Sinnamon said.
Enterprise Ireland will hold a Brexit Advisory Clinic in Portlaoise on Feb 22.
"It is essential that Irish companies look to improve their competitiveness and review their supply chain, sourcing and customer base. Enterprise Ireland is actively working with its clients to face the challenges posed by Brexit. It has also developed a range of supports to help companies prepare," she said.
These supports include a Brexit SME Scorecard tool to help companies self-assess their exposure and give advice, and several types of grants to help companies adapt to new markets, assess skills gaps, and to hire key talent.
Ms Sinnamon said they want more start-up companies in Laois.
“Earlier this week we launched a new €500,000 competitive start fund for regionally based projects. In addition, we will be announcing the second tranche of funding under our Regional Enterprise Development Fund at the end of the March which entrepreneurial projects in Laois can apply for," she said.
“A key focus of today’s meeting was to ensure that local representatives and business people in the county are aware of the full range of Enterprise Ireland supports and can make best use of our enterprise infrastructure and I look forward to seeing more companies from Laois work with Enterprise Ireland and avail of our supports for the benefit of Laois and the Midlands," she said.