Seán Kyne TD asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the steps he and State agencies within his Department’s remit are taking to ensure a supply of office and manufacturing facilities generally but also in County Galway where a constraint on suitable accommodation has delayed the establishment of new companies or divisions of existing ones.
Deputy Kyne: This question relates to the steps the Minister and the State agencies within his remit are taking to ensure a supply of office and manufacturing facilities both generally and in Galway city and county, in particular.
Minister Richard Bruton: I thank the Deputy for raising this question. An adequate supply of office and manufacturing facilities is a key component of successful enterprise development. As part of the regional Action Plan for Jobs 2015, I announced that IDA Ireland would invest €150 million over five years in property solutions designed to allow it to create opportunities to win additional projects for all regions. As part of this programme of investment, IDA Ireland is building nine advance facilities around the country, in particular in locations where the private sector has been slow to build. This includes the delivery of an advance facility in Galway.
In marketing Galway as part of the west region, IDA Ireland not only promotes its own property portfolio but, where appropriate, advises prospective investors of available privately-owned properties that may be suitable.
Enterprise Ireland does not provide office space or manufacturing facilities directly, but it has given its support to the provision of innovation or enterprise spaces. For example, it funded the NUI Galway business innovation centre and the innovation in business centre at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, GMIT, which provide spaces for spin-out companies, start-ups and entrepreneurs to establish their businesses.
The record results for 2015 for both IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland show there are 21,575 people employed by client companies of the agencies in County Galway, an increase of 2,964 since 2011.
Deputy Kyne: I thank the Minister for his reply. I certainly welcome the plans put in place by the Government which, as he noted, entail an investment of €150 million over five years. The objectives of the regional Action Plan for jobs and the Action Plan for Jobs to monitor implementation of policies on the regional plans certainly are welcome because it is not simply a case of publishing plans. One must also ensure they are implemented. Previous plans have certainly been implemented.
As the Minister noted, there has been considerable success in IDA Ireland-supported job creation initiatives, with more than 60 IDA Ireland-supported companies in County Galway creating jobs. More than 3,900 jobs have been created by IDA Ireland-backed companies since 2011, not to mention the indirect jobs created in small to medium-sized enterprises.
The Minister attended a recent jobs announcement in Galway at which I was present. In his contribution he asked the chief executive officer to let him know of issues he had. As the chief executive officer mentioned the delays he had experienced in sourcing an adequate building in Galway city, this is an issue that must continue to be pushed because it would be a sad day were it not possible to create jobs because of a lack of space or suitable buildings in a city such as Galway.
Minister Richard Bruton: I agree absolutely that this is important and not only has the Government acted on it through acquisition but planning permission has now been granted for a 40,000 sq. ft. office space in Galway. As the process for delivery will be selected in the coming year, the Government is moving ahead in that regard. However, private property developers should also have confidence given the flow of new wins in Galway. This should give the private sector confidence to commit to building because there is a strong flow of investment.
Galway is highly successful and its record speaks for itself. As companies within the remit of Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland have seen a 15% increase in employment in the space of just four years, there is a significant flow and through IDA Ireland’s property section, the Government will work with the private sector to try to give it the confidence it needs to commit to invest where it can assist in meeting some of the needs of new investors.
Deputy Kyne: I thank the Minister for his reply. As I stated, I welcome the initiatives that have been taken. Will IDA Ireland be pursuing other projects, even by merely advancing towards planning permission? The planning process can cause delays and there have been certain instances of this in Galway. I obviously welcome the provision of 40,000 sq. ft. of office space, but were the agency to pursue planning in other areas, it might act as an incentive to attract investment in other areas. There are adequate IDA Ireland lands in other areas, including Athenry, Parkmore, Dangan and Oranmore.
The Deputy is absolutely correct that IDA Ireland is seeking to promote actively its property portfolio. It has a significant property portfolio in eight locations across the county. The Department and its agencies are clearly seeking to promote these locations as sources that could provide property solutions for companies that are investing. However, on foot of the Deputy’s contribution, I will also ask IDA Ireland to consider making available space throughout Galway city and county and to examine whether initiatives could be taken, in addition to what is already being done, to focus on a decent flow of property to meet the needs of investors.