Xerox deal ranks among IDA's biggest achievements
One of the biggest coups for the IDA in 1998 was the announcement by Xerox that it would hire 2,200 workers in Dundalk and Dublin in an investment worth £186 million.
After the project was announced in June, IDA staff admitted the agency had been trying to attract the company, which is one of the largest in the world, for some 25 years.
Xerox employs 90,000 people worldwide in the manufacture of photocopiers, fax machines, scanners and digital imaging products. Its annual turnover is around £12.8 billion. The company's plan was particularly attractive for the IDA as it promised to provide employment opportunities for a variety of job-seekers - from advanced electronic engineers to relatively unskilled workers.
The location of 1,500 of the jobs in Dundalk was a substantial boost to the IDA's efforts to persuade electronics multinationals to locate outside Dublin. Dundalk has long been one of the State's unemployment black-spots - an estimated 4,000 of the town's inhabitants were jobless at the time of the announcement.
Xerox detailed a range of factors as having enticed it to Ireland at a time when it was cutting 9,000 jobs in its operations worldwide. "The political and social climate, the skills base of the local labour force, the cost of employment, investment in telecommunications, comparative tax rates and the track records of companies with similar objectives," were listed by the company's deputy managing director in Europe, as the attractions that brought the company to Ireland. The Tanaiste, Ms Harney added that the peace process had been a "key ingredient" in marketing the Dundalk area. For IDA's regional director, Mr Michael Mullaly, the "critical" factors were the existence of a third level institute in Dundalk and the town's proximity to universities in Dublin and Belfast, which had made Xerox confident that graduates would be "readily available" in Dundalk's hinterland.