The Industrial Development Authority (IDA) created just seven net jobs in North Tipperary in 2017, in an area where 4,375 people are unemployed, according to figures obtained by the Tipperary Star.
Figures released to the Tipperary Star show that of the total 10,684 net jobs created by the IDA in the whole country last year, only seven were created in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) companies in North Tipperary. At present there are just 335 FDI supported jobs in total in North Tipperary. Figures also revealed that the entire county received seven site visits last year by the IDA compared to eight visits in 2016.
A spokesperson for the IDA said that while the agency actively markets sites to FDI companies, they cannot “force a company” to set up in a particular location, adding that most FDI businesses prefer to build their operation close to already established ‘sectoral clusters.’
The spokesperson added that a lack of “critical mass population” and “limited access to third level institutions” were also critical factors affecting the development of FDI opportunities in North Tipperary.
The spokesperson also stated that the lack of FDI companies coming to North Tipperary was not down to a “shortage of marketing efforts” by the IDA noting that urban areas close to a large student network, supply of skilled people, support services and infrastructure and an already established sectoral cluster of industry are the ‘chief attractions’ for FDI.
The IDA did note, however, that there is an opportunity in North Tipperary to attract ‘mobile investment’ whereby a company is able to ‘slot into a regional location more easily.’
Over the last 20 years North Tipperary has suffered with considerable FDI job losses, many of which have not been replaced and currently there are only five IDA supported companies operating in North Tipperary including COTY Ireland, Eltex Manufacturing Ltd, Omnipay Nenagh, Taylor Made and First Data. In 2016 news that global tech firm First Data would open a new research and development centre in Nenagh was warmly welcomed with the announcement of up to 300 jobs at the Stereame site. However the town was dealt a subsequent blow last year following the confirmed closure of cosmetics plant COTY after the company announced plans to move production to the UK. The COTY factory is expected to close completely by December this year with the loss of an estimated 250 jobs. According to the IDA the COTY facility is being ‘actively marketed’ to potential clients. Last week the manufacturing plant was listed for sale by Colliers International with a guide price of €3.4million.
In the 1970’s Shannon Development pioneered the concept of advanced factory units in North Tipperary for FDI. However in 2012 these industrial development assets were absorbed by the semi-state company Shannon Commercial Properties - a subsidiary of Shannon Airport Group -which was tasked with the development of Shannon Airport.
Since then, Shannon Commercial Properties have placed a number of these industrial sites for sale including a 26 acre parcel of land at Benamore Industrial Park in Roscrea which was purchased by Tipperary County Council in 2015 and a 63 acre holding at Archerstown, Thurles which is currently on the market.
A spokesperson for Shannon Commercial Properties stated that funds realised from Shannon Commercial Properties sales throughout the Shannon Region were “reinvested on a commercial basis” and “funds from recent sales were currently being reinvested in the refurbishment of commercial office units at Tipperary Technology Park in Thurles to facilitate new tenancies.”
However the spokesperson could not reveal the amount raised from the sale or the amount reinvested in North Tipperary due to “commercial sensitivity.”
In recent years Tipperary County Council have been actively trying to attract FDI through purchasing land banks in North Tipperary including a 40 acre site at Stereame close to First Data which they hope could attract other fintech companies to the town.
Tipperary County Council Chief Executive Joe McGrath says this is a “deliberate strategy by the Council to ensure land is available” for further investment by FDI companies.
“There is already a strong biopharma sectoral cluster in Clonmel and we hope the arrival of First Data will help to attract other companies to Nenagh which is why we've bought additional land," he added.