IDA plans two massive plants in bid to attract multinationals
The IDA has unveiled building plans for two massive manufacturing facilities to be funded by the State in a bid to lure in new business.
IDA Ireland chief executive Barry O'Leary revealed the decision to build was motivated by a complete lack of privately-funded buildings of this type for multinationals.
The two large state-funded manufacturing plants – the first of their kind built since the 1980s – will be erected in Athlone and Waterford with the aim of attracting new pharmaceutical or technology companies.
The government agency, which is responsible for persuading foreign companies to locate in Ireland, said yesterday it will invest €8m of taxpayer funds into massive "advanced technology" plants in Athlone and Waterford in a bid to attract multinationals to these areas.
The two 25,000 sq ft facilities are being built with pharmaceutical or technology companies in mind, IDA Ireland said.
A spokesperson added that the timing of the announcement had nothing to do with plans for a by-election in Westmeath.
The locations were chosen to encourage investment outside of Dublin, the organisation said.
IDA Ireland has been heavily criticised by opposition parties for showing a Dublin bias – with 63pc of the jobs created by IDA clients last year in Dublin.
"These initiatives by the IDA will address the current deficit of suitable property solutions and promote investment into regional locations," said IDA Ireland chief executive Barry O'Leary.
Mr O'Leary confirmed the IDA had decided to invest in the buildings due to a lack of appropriate new facilities.
No tenants have been secured for the manufacturing plants as of yet, it is understood. However, a spokesperson from the IDA told the Irish Independent they are being built to answer a specific need expressed by several life-sciences and technology companies with whom they have had discussions.
"Several companies have told the IDA that 25,000 sq ft facilities in particular are what they require for manufacturing activity," the spokesperson said.
The plans received a mixed reaction among business groups and industry bodies. Business body IBEC welcomed it.
"Since the property market collapsed a number of years ago, the supply of new commercial property has halted," said an IBEC spokesperson.
"As project financing is still limited, the supply of new accommodation remains subdued, lowering vacancy rates and increasing rents.
"Today's announcement that the IDA is funding and managing the construction of commercial properties is a sensible way to resolve shortages."
But others were less positive. Waterford Chamber of Commerce chief executive Nick Donnelly said it wasn't enough.
"It's certainly welcome, but what we really want to see are more visits by foreign companies to Waterford, a more equitable approach," he said, highlighting the impact of job losses in the city in recent years at Waterford Crystal and call centre Talk Talk.
"Visits by IDA clients are not spread proportionately around the country," he added.
Figures released by Jobs Minister Richard Bruton last week showed that Carlow, Kerry, Kildare, Laois, Leitrim, Longford, Mayo, Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon, Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford received no IDA-supported overseas investors at all in the first three months of the year.
"It will be hugely helpful to have a ready-made facility available to show companies – but what we really need is to actually get the companies here in the first place," said Mr Donnelly.
"The more visits you have, the greater chance of success."