FURTHER job developments are in the offing for Waterford and the South East, according to IDA Ireland’s Regional Manager, Brendan McDonald.
Speaking to the Waterford News & Star in his Cork Road office, Mr McDonald said that good news was coming down the line.
“Behind the scenes, there are jobs announcements that we’ve approved in our system that we can’t necessarily announce because of corporate considerations – and we’d love to announce them,” he said. “There’s a number of very significant Research and Development (R&D)-related jobs in some life sciences companies that we know are happening which are not yet public knowledge but again they’re transformational for their own sites.”
These new jobs, Mr McDonald confirmed, will be generated by existing clients on the IDA’s books. “We’re on a journey of transformational change with a lot of these companies, to assist them in bringing their sites to the next level to win the next line of new business or to come up with the next product or service in-house.”
The arrival of new clients in Waterford, in addition to expansions made by existing companies in the city, county and region had contributed to a “good year for IDA Ireland”, said Mr McDonald.
“For example, there’s All States Group (ASG) who recently announced 125 jobs, just up from us here in the (industrial) park where they’ve set up at WorkLab and we’ve had the Emerald Contact Centre (ECC) expansion, which saw them move into an office on the other side of the park,” he said.
“We’ve also had the Agora expansion (at Woodlock House in Portlaw), the ARTeSYN launch (at the Six Cross Roads Business Park) a few weeks ago, so there’s been plenty of positivity from a Waterford perspective.”
‘Our door is always open’
Mr McDonald stressed that the IDA’s “openness and transparency” extends to City & County Councillors whom, as almost a matter of routine over the past 20 years, have repeatedly called on IDA officials to appear before them.
“From the point of view of engagement with all levels of government, local officials and stakeholders, we’re very keen to get both our message out there and our clients’ message out there,” he said.
“And that message is that there are plenty of things going on; some are going on in the background which not everyone might be aware of, then there are some things that we can’t announce publicly, but we’re always happy to go into City Hall. We don’t shy away from that; we’ve presented to the Council here locally over the last number of years on an annual basis, in addition we’ve presented to the Councils in Kilkenny and Carlow over the past year.
“We regularly meet with elected members from across the South East and it’s important to do so, after all they’re the voice of the people and they’re the ones that are ultimately lobbying central government (on the region’s behalf) so anything that helps us do our job is always welcome.”
According to the literature promoting the new Advance Building at the IDA’s Business and Technology Park, Waterford currently has 58 indigenous companies employing 7,000 people in addition to 38 multi-national companies with over 7,000 employees.
‘Our competition is international’
From Brendan McDonald’s view, the South East is not competing with other Irish regions when it comes to attracting Foreign and Direct Investment (FDI). “That’s the last thing on our mind from the perspective of Ireland Inc,” he said.
“We’re in competition with other major cities globally. And if you look at Waterford, you’re talking about a population of about 53,000 people and as a city, Waterford is competing with the likes of Amsterdam (population: 822,000), London (8.8 million), Shenzen in China (population: 12.1m) and Mumbai in India (22m). The city and county population is 115,000 (approximately) and we’ve got a regional population of just over 500,000.
“There are companies coming here from ‘small towns’ in China and India which have populations in excess of a million so firstly we’re competing from Ireland Inc’s perspective to win the investment for Ireland and then our mission, and this is critical from an IDA perspective, is to get the development into the regional location.”
Brendan McDonald added: “Dublin is a city of scale and that helps to attract companies into Ireland and then we get those companies looking at Ireland, we can then pitch the more regional locations to companies to showcase the benefits of being here from a cost perspective, from a talent perspective and we find that in regional locations such as Waterford, you have people who will stay longer (here) in their position because they’re happier, they’re usually at a different stage of life.
“Or when in the case of graduates in WIT and the various research centres, you have people who are looking for a job because of costings. That said, Dublin is always going to attract folks, which is fine, but then our job is to try and sell the South East as a regional alternative to Dublin and that’s very attractive to companies who are maybe not in the likes of California and may be in the likes of Austin, Texas or Florida. We’re trying to pair locations as well because companies coming from top tier locations such as Silicon Valley, it’s very hard to get them to look anywhere outside of Dublin because they’re looking at the likes of Dublin, London, Amsterdam and Barcelona and that’s the challenge that we have. But we’re up for that challenge all the time and we’re trying to meet that challenge.”