IDA bosses to step up investment efforts in Longford

Council chief says efforts continuing to further county's economic fortunes

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

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liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

IDA bosses to step up investment efforts in Longford

IDA chiefs have insisted they are “trying to address” the lack of foreign direct investment into Longford despite there being just eight registered site visits to the county since 2012.

Paul Veale, Midlands Regional Development Manager with the state agency made the admission in front of local politicians at last week's monthly county council meeting.

Mr Veale acknowledged the deep-rooted frustration which had been felt locally as to enticing large multinationals to counties like Longford, but insisted efforts to change that imbalance were ongoing.

“I know it has been a bone of contention,” he told a hushed chamber last Wednesday.

“Since I have come on board (in the IDA) in 2015 we have had eight (visits).

“If you don't have any site visits then you just won't get companies in and that is something we are trying to address.”

Mr Veale said one way of reversing that trend was by local companies and other state agencies adopting a more “collaborative approach” to potential job creation.

Longford County Council Chief Executive Paddy Mahon admitted the IDA's presence at last week's local authority meeting had stemmed largely as a result of recent job losses at one of its client backed companies Cameron.

Some 170 workers learned last October that there jobs were to go, a decision which sparked fury and anger from local politicians over the response from state agencies like the IDA to replace those positions.

Mr Mahon, however, said work by both the Council and its partners within the state agency, some of which has not received media attention, was already beginning to take shape.

Among them, he added, were moves to upgrade the N4 as well as extending the national gas pipe network to Longford.

“We (Council) are liasing with them in terms of identifying land banks and we are looking at the whole area of regeneration and how we can collaborate with them,” he remarked.

Mr Mahon also leapt to the defence of criticism which had been meted out to various organisations in the wake of the Cameron jobs fallout.

The Tuam native said but for the decision to initiate a dedicated inter-agency group in the days following that announcement, Longford's economic fortunes would have taken an even greater setback.

“It could have been a lot worse if the workings of that group weren't in place,” he argued.

Councillors, meanwhile, raised calls for IDA bosses to focus their attention on bringing an advanced factory to Longford with others calling for updates as to FDI advances to be given on a yearly basis.