Peter Burke TD, Martin Dowd, Business Development Director, Avery Dennison and Ken Whitelaw, IDA Ireland’s Business Development Manager for the Midlands Region.
Longford benefited considerably during 2018 from a 14% increase in job numbers across the midlands region, the highest percentage increase of any region.
The year saw jobs announcements from two IDA client companies, Red Seal Cups and Avery Dennison.
Red Seal Cups, who manufacture packaging material for the medical, foodservice and disposable packaging sectors, announced in May that it is establishing a manufacturing and supply operation in Longford, creating 100 jobs over the next three years.
The company took over the former Cameron site facility.
Established medical product manufacturing company Avery Dennison also announced in May its plans to expand its operations in Longford with the construction of a 6,000 square metre facility which will create 200 additional jobs.
Ken Whitelaw, IDA Ireland’s Regional Business Development Manager for the Midlands Region, said:
“These were very welcome announcements, one from a new company locating here and the other from a well established company. In addition to securing new investment, supporting existing companies to grow is a key focus for us and Avery Dennison’s expansion of its Finesse Medical Ltd. facility is an excellent development.”
Mr Whitelaw added, “IDA Ireland also supported, in collaboration with Longford County Council, the delivery of the €233 million Center Parcs Longford Forest project which is due to open in Summer 2019. In October the company held a recruitment information day for the 1,000 permanent roles being created. In addition to those jobs being directly created, the spin off benefit in terms of employment in service industries and tourism will be a huge boost to Longford and the economy of the region.”
The Regional Manager acknowledges however that challenges remain; more investment is needed in the midlands region generally.
He said, “While Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) cannot form the sole economic strategy for a region, it can play a huge role in increasing economic activity and reducing unemployment. However, winning such investments is a challenge; it requires concerted and continuous effort, not just by IDA Ireland but by all national and regional stakeholders. It needs cooperation, collaboration and integration to develop and present the strongest possible value proposition to existing and future potential investors.”
Mr Whitelaw continued, “The criteria required by global companies seeking to invest in Ireland is exacting. To locate in a particular regional location they want good road access, the availability of a skilled workforce and a skills pipeline, an appropriate level of infrastructure and services, suitable property solutions coupled with a robust and supportive business culture. That all takes time to develop and can only be done in collaboration with other stakeholders.
“We have an excellent third level facility for the midlands region in Athlone Institute of Technology, so we are well served with education and training facilities. But we have work to do on our other offerings; developing property solutions, improving our accessibility and infrastructure. We will continue to work with, and support the efforts of local stakeholders to strengthen Longford’s value proposition.
“We also welcome the planned development of the Riverside Shopping Centre and the Camlin Quarter – these plans, coupled with the Council’s successful funding application under the Government’s Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF) to improve the Public Realm Market Square, will help to develop the attractiveness and ‘place-making’ of Longford town.”
Mr Whitelaw stressed that competition for FDI continues to be fierce, not just from other locations in Ireland but from across Europe and further afield.
“We made significant progress this year in Longford but there is no room for complacency, our efforts continue, we are laying the groundwork for the future,” he concluded.