IDA to build new regional bases to attract investment

Barry O’Leary to step down as chief executive

Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton at the IDA end-of-year statement at IDA headquarters yesterday. Photograph: Alan Betson

Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton at the IDA end-of-year statement at IDA headquarters yesterday. Photograph: Alan Betson


The IDA is to build new regional manufacturing bases in areas where the private sector is unable to provide the facilities needed to attract investment from foreign companies.

Chief executive Barry O’Leary also announced yesterday he is stepping down from the organisation to “pursue other opportunities”.

The IDA, which is tasked with securing foreign direct investment into Ireland, says it will start building manufacturing facilities outside Dublin and Cork which will be ready for interested companies.

The IDA says it needs to create new “property capacity in regional locations” where “the private sector is unable currently to develop property solutions”.

It will be the first time in almost five years the IDA has built such facilities, and Mr O’Leary said they may be needed for companies which do not have the time to construct their own buildings.

“We are charged with trying to get more business into regions around the country. You bring them around Ireland, you show them all the pluses, and then they’ll say: ‘okay, where can I locate my project?’

“And some companies would have the luxury of a two-year wait to design, go for planning permission and build a facility, but other companies won’t have the luxury of that.”

He said some companies “want to move immediately” and two IDA facilities would be built in Athlone and Waterford, which already have clusters of medical technology and pharmaceutical companies.

Planning permission
“So IDA is going to build two 25,000 square foot facilities in both of those locations. We already have planning permission,” Mr O’Leary added. “We’ll be going out to tender to start the construction of those two manufacturing buildings.”

An office building for international services will be developed in Letterkenny, and the IDA is considering facilities in Galway and Limerick. It will also continue “to assess the requirements in other regions on an ongoing basis”.

While pharmaceutical companies may need buildings built specifically for them, it is possible to construct building shells for medical devices companies and have them fitted out afterwards. While the IDA would ideally like to sell the buildings, this is seen as unlikely. They are likely to be rented out.

The agency is also working with Nama to make sure there is adequate office space in Dublin but says construction of buildings to facilitate large projects of 100,000sq feet or more needs to “begin sooner rather than later”.

Mr O’Leary was speaking at the launch of the IDA’s 2013 end-of-year statement which said 13,367 jobs were created by IDA client companies last year, a net increase of 7,071 in employment.

Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton was also at the launch and thanked Mr O’Leary for his “exceptional leadership”.

The IDA said last year represented the highest level of job creation in over a decade and it aims to achieve a 6,000 net increase in jobs in 2014.

While this was below the level achieved for 2013, Mr Bruton said it was still hoped to beat the 2013 levels. “We have looked at these targets over a long number of years and the targets are getting more challenging. You can’t obviously bank on a record year being repeated.”

New employment
Mr O’Leary expects to leave the IDA, where he was appointed chief executive in 2008, by the middle or end of the year. Restrictions in his current position – he has dealings with many companies – mean he will have to wait some time before taking up new employment.