Upswing will bring foreign jobs claims IDA
The IDA is confident that its upswing in bringing foreign businesses on visits to Laois, will result in jobs announcements for the county within a year.
So far in 2016, it has arranged six visits by multinationals to Laois, to entice them here. Four came in 2015.
Laois has less foreign backed jobs than any other county in Ireland but Paul Veale, Midlands Regional Business Developer Manager with IDA Ireland, told Laois County Council that he expects good news next year.
“I am confident that there will be jobs created. We have to start from somewhere, but when I am back in 12 months, there will be progress,” he said.
However, he said two major challenges to attracting international companies to Laois, are the lack of rural broadband, and the lack of 30,000 sq ft empty units.
“We can’t market if you don’t have broadband. Portlaoise is fine but the residential side is the real issue because many companies offer people opportunities to work from home. That’s an issue throughout the midlands, but I believe the midlands is the first region that will have rural broadband rolled out,” he said.
He added that another downside is the limited third level access in Laois.
The IDA is showing the National Enterprise Park, near Clonminam, as office space.
“We see the possibilities, for smaller companies in the US who can use An Post to distribute,” he said.
The recent naming of Ballyfin as Best Hotel in the World, and Electric Picnic's success, will help he said.
“Companies are looking for locations they can showcase to their customers, as a place to visit. So Ballyfin is very important in terms of positivity and elevating the location, as well as theElectric Picnic,” he said.
The IDA relies on local businesses to welcome visiting multinationals.
“We engage with the network here, we rely on them to help sell Laois. We call Andrew Cremin for our property database, and when investors meet with the likes of Seamus and Noel from Internal Solutions, or Aubren or An Post, their confidence and enthusiasm shines through,” he said.
New businesses opening in Portlaoise are also helping.
“I can see the difference in main street, that vibrancy, be it the chance to stop in Bull Lane for a coffee, it all helps as part of the sell,” he said.
He agreed that many people commute from Laois for work and their skills are yet unknown, he stated.
“We are well aware of the number of commuters, the challenge is to identify who are on the trains, and what is their skillset,” he said.