500 finance jobs to be created at new hub on old Smithwicks brewery site in Kilkenny
A FOREIGN financial services firm is set to create 500 jobs in Kilkenny.
The city has failed to attract multinationals in recent years, other than US fund managing company State Street.
The latest promise of jobs comes as Kilkenny County Council told new councillors it has an ambitious €33m plan to transform the former Smithwick's site in the city centre, which was given to the city by Diageo in 2012 for a nominal sum of €2.1m.
The council has also been in separate discussions with six other prospective firm which could create a further 500 jobs, the council said.
Councillors are expected to vote on proposals in the coming weeks but say they would need €33m investment from the Government, state agencies, the council and private partnerships.
Plans include a research centre for Waterford and Carlow IT, a new park and 180,000 sq ft of new office facilities, including the refurbishment of the former brew house for what is believed to be a financial services firm.
"The proposal to establish on the Smithwick's site a major international services company with some 500 jobs is very advanced (though not finalised), with real prospects of a further 500 jobs," county manager Joe Crockett told councillors.
He continued: "Good news as this is, these jobs cannot be secured unless major new office facilities are put in place at an early date. Clearly, direct provision by the council or by council borrowing is not feasible on the scale required.
"Two investment companies have indicated their interest in working with the council in a public private partnership to develop three blocks – a total of 180,000 sq ft on a phased pre-let basis, together with funding of supporting infrastructure."
Any development at the historical St Francis Abbey brewery site is dependent on the council providing the road through the site, a major garden/public amenity and support services like water, he added.
While the council itself has been marketing and publicising the Research and Enterprise Campus/Smithwick's site as part of the Invest Kilkenny promotional programme, it is understood that IDA and Connect Ireland have been onsite several times with a number of prospective companies.
"Even if all of these companies do not locate on the site, there are now strong grounds for believing that other companies will follow suit as the Smithwick's site develops," Mr Crockett said.
The boost follows plans by leading food firm Glanbia to develop a new dairy production facility in Belview, on the Kilkenny/Waterford border, which management said will be worth about €400m to the economy.
John Hurley, chief executive of Kilkenny Chamber of Commerce, said the brewery would be a tremendous site for any multinational and that all three agencies were working together to secure the deal.
Kilkenny council chairman, Cllr Pat Dunphy, said the jobs boost would be incredible.
"The council is being asked to vote on the council getting involved in a public/private partnership.
"The strategy is good, in my view. We are setting in place the structures to keep jobs in the city and country and in the south-east.