THERE are “ongoing developments” in relation to economic development and job creation in Laois, according to Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan.
It was rare good news story for the IDA with Internal Results Ireland officially opening their new building last Friday. The Portlaoise company have received IDA backing in their plans to recruit 20 new staff in the next three years.
However, one swallow does not make a summer as Senator John Whelan remarked and much more needs to be done.
This is combined with the news that there has been no site visits to Portlaoise facilitated by the IDA for companies looking to invest in Ireland in the first half of 2014.
Minister Flanagan was disappointed with the figure but believed more jobs were on the way for Portlaoise.
“While there hasn’t been site visits, I know that arrangements have been made and there are ongoing developments with other groups. Obviously it’s very difficult to mandate an IDA funded company to a particular town in Ireland. In the past what the IDA companies have been doing is looking at the Galways, the Limericks, the Corks, because that’s where they can make contact with other successful entrepreneurial colleagues and follow on. I do believe we are putting in place stepping stones for further development here. I do believe, with the IDA and perhaps more particularly Enterprise Ireland, we will see continued economic development here in Portlaoise which ultimately will be best packaged in the number of jobs on the ground.”
IDA business development manager Catherina Blewitt defended the number of site visits stating that companies chose which locations they wanted to visit.
“Having somebody in the park (Portlaoise Business & Technology Park) like Internal Results really, really helps us to sell Portlaoise, Laois and the Midlands area,” she said. “It’s a big strong selling point.”
Senator Whelan lauded the success story of Internal Results Ireland but put it down entirely to the “endeavour, expertise and enterprise” of management and staff.
“Every new job is a building block towards recovery for families, our community and our economy. However, one swallow never made a summer, and the progress at Internal Results in Portlaoise, does not constitute foreign direct investment for which the IDA is involved, nor does it let the IDA off the hook for 30 years of neglect and abject failure to deliver investment in jobs in Portlaoise and throughout Laois. This is a start, the IDA’s support is critical, but they will have to deliver far more before I am convinced that Laois ranks in their list of priorities, despite all its distinct and considerable advantages as commercial and industrial location.”
Minister Flanagan said the government was having success to “some effect” in creation and maintenance of job creation both locally and nationally. He pointed to a reduction in a national unemployment rate from 15.9% to an expected rate by the end of the year of 10.6%.
“That is reflected here in Laois as in any other part of the country. However, in welcoming the job creation and the increased numbers forecasted for this year and next year, I think a lot more needs to be done in Laois in employment creation and employment maintenance. But I believe we are on the right course. I believe companies like Internal Results are proving that.”
Co-founder of Internal Results in the UK Chris Whife said a company’s success was not necessarily dependent on being located in a big city. People often assumed that the company’s Irish base was in Dublin.
“It’s looking outside the norm really. People would think a company like us would have to be in Dublin because a lot of our competition are in Dublin but that’s not the case.”