SHANNON Development recorded a net jobs gain at the Shannon Free Zone last year for the first time in four years.
New figures released by the regional development agency show that the zone recorded a net gain of 32 jobs – 499 new jobs and the loss of 467.
It is the first time since 2008 that Shannon Development has recorded a net gain and a spokeswoman said "the agency is optimistic we have turned a corner".
Ironically, the return to net jobs growth comes after the Government has decided to remove the job promotion functions from Shannon Development as part of the revamp of Shannon Airport.
The spokeswoman said: "Given the adverse global economic climate the company is encouraged by the growth at the zone, which was also reflected in the indigenous sector there. Over the past three years, indigenous jobs have increased by over 12pc from 953 to 1,076."
The Shannon Zone is home to over 100 companies employing over 7,700 people, generating over €3bn in annual sales, 94pc of which are to export markets.
It is one of the largest multi-sectoral business parks in Ireland and has one of the highest concentrations of North American firms in the country.
The net gain of 32 jobs last year follows a net jobs loss of 174 in 2011 – a positive swing of 206.
The figures show the zone recorded a net job loss of 254 in 2010 and 787 in 2009.
Companies based at the zone contribute over €620m annually on staff payroll, materials and services.
As part of the restructure, Shannon Airport and Shannon Development are to be merged later this year with the airport benefiting from Shannon Development's annual €12m rent roll.
The cost per job created at Shannon Development amounted to €16,139 in 2011.
This compared with the cost per job of €14,202 at the IDA and a cost of €12,024 at Enterprise Ireland.