Business Irish

Wednesday 17 January 2018

IDA can build on recent feats, insists outgoing CEO

Barry O'Leary, CEO, IDA Ireland and Louise Phelan, President of the American Chamber. Picture: Jason Clarke Photography
Barry O'Leary, CEO, IDA Ireland and Louise Phelan, President of the American Chamber. Picture: Jason Clarke Photography
Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

THE past five years has been IDA Ireland's most successful ever, despite the financial crisis, outgoing CEO Barry O'Leary has said.

This record looks set to continue, he said in an address at the American Chamber of Commerce's Spring Lunch in Dublin yesterday, with talks ongoing with around 130 companies about investing in Ireland. "We have a good immediate pipeline [of investment announcements]" he said.

The IDA's success over the past five years, he added, can be attributed to four things:

* Decision to focus energy on foreign companies already active in Ireland, rather than constantly driving for new ones. Four-fifths of the IDA's budget goes towards companies already here.

* Focus on employment-intensive sectors.

* Targeting young and high-growth companies like AirBNB and TripAdvisor, some of which were not even in existence five years ago.

* A huge push to build up Ireland's brand overseas. This included a major advertising campaign and heavy participation at Davos, the economic forum popular with chief executives.

The key "mission critical" factors that attracted the major US companies active in Ireland – like skilled employees – have not changed, he said.

"J & J (Johnson & Johnson) doesn't care about the problems of an Irish bank," said Mr O'Leary, who received a standing ovation from the audience of major US employers.

The IDA's biggest worry is the European market and its flat growth rate, since most of the US companies investing in Ireland are doing so to gain access to Europe.

Competitiveness is also a concern, he added, particularly in terms of property prices and worker skills.

Irish Independent

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