350 new jobs for Cork under US firm's EUR700m investment

The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Ms Harney, will today announce details of a €700 million investment…

The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Ms Harney, will today announce details of a €700 million investment by US-owned healthcare products manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, that will create up to 350 jobs in the Cork region. Barry Roche, Southern Correspondent, reports.

Details of the announcement have been kept tightly under wraps until today, but it is understood the investment will be in three phases and will involve the creation of highly skilled jobs in the biotechnology sector. The jobs will be in the Ringaskiddy area, where Johnson & Johnson already has a plant.

The investment represents a significant coup for IDA Ireland, as Cork faced extremely strong competition from a number of other locations in Europe for the facility.

It is understood that the ready supply of skilled graduates from both University College Cork and the Cork Institute of Technology, along with the record of the Johnson & Johnson plant in Ringaskiddy for quality work, were among the critical factors which helped win the investment for Cork.

Johnson & Johnson, with $36.3 billion in sales in 2002 and over 80,000 employees worldwide, is the world's largest and most diverse manufacturer of healthcare products, serving the consumer, pharmaceutical, medical devices and diagnostics markets.

The company, which currently employs 1,300 people in Ireland, has had a plant in Ringaskiddy since the late 1990s, when it invested £31 million in a facility for the high-volume manufacturing of artificial knee and hip joints for the world market.

Today's announcement follows another significant investment announcement by Ms Harney last month, when IDA Ireland was again instrumental in attracting a major investment by the US medical devices company Guidant that will lead to a significant expansion and the creation of 1,000 new jobs at its plant in Clonmel, Co Tipperary.

While in Cork today, Ms Harney will also open a new €35 million research and development facility at GlaxoSmithKline's plant at Currabinny, where more than 400 people are employed.

GSK, the second largest pharmaceutical company in the world, established the Cork facility to manufacture Primary Active Pharmaceutical products.

Cork has seen a large concentration of investment over many years in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors, with companies such as Pfizer, Novartis, Boston Scientific, Eli Lilly and Schering Plough, as well as Johnson & Johnson and GSK, all having significant operations in the area.