US firm names Co Clare plant as European headquarters

Wed, Aug 8, 2012, 01:00

A US-BASED corporation has named its Co Clare facility as its new European headquarters despite almost closing the plant seven years ago.

Microsemi Corporation, which develops semiconductor products, announced plans in 2005 to phase out production at the Ennis plant but later reversed the decision.

Since then, the company has almost trebled its workforce in Ennis; yesterday’s announcement will further safeguard 300 jobs at one of the region’s largest employers.

The news coincided with a celebration marking the company’s 20th year in Ireland.

Company president and chief executive James J Peterson, who arrived in Ennis yesterday with several senior company executives, said: “We have been impressed with the calibre of engineering graduates in Ireland and we are confident about the future of the skill base here, hence our decision to make Ennis our European headquarters.

“Naming Ennis our European headquarters is a testament to the hard work and talent of the many employees who have built this facility into a world-class manufacturing, sales and engineering centre and gateway for our European operations.”

He also announced an engineering scholarship scheme as well as a company-funded science and aerospace engineering programme at St Flannan’s College in Ennis.

“As part of our commitment to Ireland, we are proud to sponsor an engineering scholarship at the University of Limerick and a programme at St Flannan’s to cultivate interest in science and innovation,” Mr Peterson added.

He said support from IDA Ireland was a key factor in the firm’s decision to invest in the region.

IDA chief executive Barry O’Leary said: “The contribution of Microsemi to the local economy and community is highly significant and it is gratifying. . . that Ennis is to become its European headquarters.”

Ennis Chamber of Commerce chief executive Rita McInerney said: “This news is testament to the hard work and dedication of management and staff from a place of possible closure . . . to a vital and premier site in Microsemi’s international network.

Microsemi, which has an annual turnover of $1 billion (€805 million), also has a design group in Dublin.

The company’s annual spend in Ireland is in excess of $25 million (€20 million).