TRALEE-based food giant Kerry Group has given the country a massive jobs boost with news that the multinational is to build a €100 million global technology and innovation centre in Kildare, which will create an estimated 1,300 jobs over the next four years.
Kerry Group spokesperson Frank Hayes said the location was chosen as it provides easy access via motorway to Dublin airport and port. Other locations, including Kerry, were considered but were found to be too inaccessible for the project to be viable.
While a small number of research and development jobs at the company's Listowel manufacturing plant may eventually be moved to the Kildare facility all other Kerry Group jobs in Kerry will remain in the county.
The company's head offices will also remain in Tralee.
The development will see up to 900 jobs created by 2016. A further 400 building jobs will also be created during construction of the 28-acre facility at the Millenium Park in Naas.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, Jobs Minister Richard Bruton and Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney all attended the launch of the plan which took place in Dublin on Monday.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny described Kerry Group as a "world leader in food production" and said the Government is fully behind its plans.
Kerry Chief Executive Stan McCarthy said the new centre would bring significant career development opportunities and would assist in accelerating graduate and early career development, talent management and training.
Since its foundation in 1972, Kerry Group has grown from a tiny dairy operation into Ireland's biggest food company and is now the third biggest company on the Irish Stock Exchange after Ryanair and CRH.
With its head offices in Tralee, the group employs more than 24,000 people in its manufacturing, sales, technology and application centres across Europe, North America, South America, Australia, New Zealand and Asia.