Mr. Henry McGarvey, who is also vice president and senior managing director at Pramerica Systems Ireland, Letterkenny, said that the American Chamber engaged leading economist Joseph Quinlan to examine the strength of the Irish US Economic Relationship. The Chamber’s ‘Built to Last’ report shows that US companies in Ireland have a total investment of $190 billion, and account for 26% of Irish GDP.
“In the past few years, job creation has been strongest in the multinational sector and, as a country we continue to punch above our weight in securing new investments. US companies continue to account for three quarters of all foreign direct investment into Ireland and with 148 investments secured in 2011 creating 13,000 jobs IDA Ireland had a record year. The North West has profited from recent investment with companies such as United Health adding 200 jobs and Zeus a further 75”, said Mr. McGarvey.
Mr. McGarvey said that the North West Region has much to offer as a location for foreign direct investment but that a lack of modern transport infrastructure may hamper the Region from developing to its full economic potential. “Galway, Waterford, Cork, Limerick and Belfast are all connected to Dublin by motorway greatly improving access and reducing travel times between these cities. This makes them attractive to new investors. Without modern rail or motorway infrastructure the North West may fall behind other regions in terms of its attractiveness to new investment”, he said.
“US companies employ over 5,000 people in the North West Region, primarily in Sligo and Donegal. Their experience has been positive and as a Region we need to ensure that we are attractive to potential investors.” McGarvey said.
He added that said the North West Region was well served by third level institutions including Letterkenny and Sligo Institutes of Technology which provide an educated pool of talent for companies locating in the Region, but that closer links with industry could benefit future students.
“We need to protect our ability to continue to attract investment in the future and a young, innovative workforce with the skills required by these global enterprises will be fundamental to our success”, he said.
“However, we need to see tangible links between industry and third level institutions nationally throughout the country. This is a two-way street requiring commitment from both industry and academia. Here in the North West a far reaching initiative would be for lecturers from our Institutes to undertake internships within companies to get a real understanding of modern businesses and their skills requirements”.
Lifelong learning is another vital issue according to Mr. McGarvey. “When you look at how much the environment has changed over the past decade with the advent of new technologies like social media, cloud computing, gene therapies and so on it would be a brave man who would try to predict the skills that will be required for the Ireland of 2022. That is why continued and ongoing investment in lifelong learning is so critically important for our future competitiveness.”
“The requirement to increase our ICT graduates has been appreciated for a number of years and we would be concerned that given its importance the pace at which it is progressing could be improved. We need to get young people excited about the opportunities ICT skills give them across a broad range of industries and jobs. That means putting ICT at the heart of the school curriculum in second level schools”, he said.
According to Mr. McGarvey the continued strength of purpose shown by the Government in protecting Ireland’s 12.5% rate of Corporation Tax is very important for the international investment community. “It is very heartening to see the unity of purpose shown by all involved in the efforts to retain the 12.5% rate of Corporation Tax. The Government, supported by the main opposition parties and a broad consensus of Irish society has successfully defended this key plank of our industrial policy and everyone who played a role in that deserves credit. The Government must be ever vigilant in protecting Ireland’s interests in this regard”, said Mr. McGarvey.
US companies employ over 5,000 people in the North West Region, primarily in Sligo and Donegal. Companies located in the region include:
Abbott Ireland, Associated Packaging Technologies Ireland, Claddagh Resources, Elanco Animal Health (Ireland) Ltd, Hospira, Masonite Ireland, MBNA Ireland, Pramerica Systems Ireland, UnitedHealth Group, Valspar Corporation, Zeus Industrial Products (Ireland) Ltd.