Saturday 20 January 2018

Clune's Connect Ireland on course for €1.6bn-€1.8bn boost to Irish GDP by 2020

The scheme has a potential 4,000 jobs in the pipeline

Terry Clune, chairman of Connect Ireland
Terry Clune, chairman of Connect Ireland
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

Taxback founder Terry Clune's foreign direct investment initiative Connect Ireland (CI) is set to contribute €1.6bn-€1.8bn to the Irish economy in the period 2014 to 2020, according to a report carried out for CI by DKM economic consultants.

The scheme, launched in 2012, is designed to mobilise the global Irish community in attracting companies here. Thus far, 68 companies have set up in Ireland on foot of the scheme, most outside Dublin.

Among those is Australian lender Pepper, which has a large team in Shannon, Co Clare, and recently announced plans to begin lending mortgages. Two thousand jobs have been announced in connection with the scheme so far.

The DKM report, prepared in November, says in the base case scenario, 6,400 jobs would be created in the 2014-2020 period, while in the high case scenario, over 7,300 would be created.

"Depending on which of our scenarios materialises, over the period 2014 to 2020, CI client companies are projected to add between €1.6bn and €1.8bn to Irish GDP... and to deliver a return to the Exchequer in the range of €326m-€374m," the report says.

"From 2017, total employment in CI client companies is forecast to grow at four per cent per annum. While this is one and a half to two times the national employment growth rate forecast by official sources, it was deemed appropriate given the profile of the companies supported by CI, which are predominantly focused on high growth sectors.

A range of figures across business, sport, and the arts support the project worldwide - including Saoirse Ronan, Michael O'Leary, Denis O'Brien, Sonia O'Sullivan, Louise Phelan, Dermot Desmond and Martin Naughton.

Other so-called "connections" pass on fruitful tips about potential moves by firms into the European region.

"What we simply do is we ask the diaspora around the world to simply keep their ears open for companies that are expanding into Europe - and if they hear about a company that's expanding to Europe, let us know, and our team will give them the pitch as to why they choose Ireland," Clune, who is Connect Ireland's chairman, told the Sunday Independent. "Our most successful month since we started was last month - we announced five new projects, five new companies into the country, four outside Dublin.

"We've bedded it down, it's going well now, and now we're on the upward curve," Clune said.

Those who provide fruitful tips get a Government reward of up to €1,500 per job created (with a maximum reward of €150,000), which in many cases is donated to charity.

CI chief executive Joanna Murphy said the scheme "has about 3,000 or 4,000 jobs in the pipeline now".

"They're not all going to come through, but lots of them are. There's lots more Peppers," she said.

"I think one of the really interesting statistics is that 60pc of the jobs are outside Dublin. I think they're more sticky, those companies are here for the right reasons, they're here because they want to be here, it's not necessarily a tax thing.

"I know that 400 jobs is great - but we quite like the 10 jobs in one place, or the 40 tens... that's a much more compelling story for us. They become invested in the community, they become part of the community, and people are very proud of them.

"Within that pipeline, there are various stages...there's about 100 companies right now that are about to convert, that we expect would come over the line in the next weeks and months.

"We've reached out to 1,400 companies that are engaged in that conversation."

Sunday Indo Business

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