IDA Business Park Portlaoise.
No sign of Apple, Intel, Facebook, Google or any other foreign firms coming to Laois
More than 10,000 people commute out of Laois daily but the county got a microscopic number of new jobs created with IDA help over the past two years, according to figures from a Sinn Féin TD for the county.
Of almost 40,000 jobs created in 2015 and 2016 across the country just 0.07% went to Laois. While Kildare got more than 1,100, just 28 jobs went to Laois.
Deputy Brian Stanley raised the IDA's performance issue with the Tánaiste and Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Frances Fitzgerald. The IDA is a State run agency that travels around the world to persuade multinationals to invest and create jobs to Ireland.
"The record in County Laois is appalling. There were 39,609 net new jobs created in IDA Ireland backed companies in 2015 and 2016. Laois got just 28 of them. That is 0.07% of them. I am not arguing that Kildare should have got less, but it got 1,140 in the same period. Laois is at the bottom of the league and has been so consistently for more than two decades. Why?"
The TD said Bord na Móna has plans for some of its Coolnamona sites and IDA Ireland has been tasked with marketing them. It has been requested by Bord na Móna to do that. He said there are business parks in Laois and huge infrastructure improvements in terms of motorways and broadband.
He said the facilities in the county in terms of hotels, golf courses, swimming pools and sports facilities are excellent. He said Laois has the infrastructure needed to address quality of life issues.
"When I became a councillor, I was told that we lagged behind in respect of all those matters. We have done all of that and have excellent facilities and infrastructure in the county. All parties are behind this, yet 0.07% of jobs are going to the county. There are 10,000 people a day commuting out of County Laois to work. That is not acceptable in a county of 85,000 people," he said.
The Tánaiste accepted that: "more needs to be done, especially in counties such as Laois".
She said Laois is marketed by IDA Ireland as part of the midlands region, together with counties Westmeath, Longford and Offaly. There are 30 multinational companies based in the midlands, employing 4,280 people. There are 115 people employed by those IDA Ireland client companies based in Laois.
"I assure the Deputy that the agency continues to promote County Laois as an investment location to overseas companies. I am hopeful that further jobs will be created there by IDA Ireland companies and clients in the future," she said.
The Tánaiste said the Laois local enterprise office, LEO, is currently advancing three projects which are in receipt of approximately €230,000 of funding through the LEO competitive fund.