The week after news broke that JenaValve medical devices company is set to pull out of Sligo, Sligo County Council was given a presentation by IDA Border Region manager John Nugent.
In his presentation, Mr Nugent pointed out to council members what they could do to help make Sligo more appealing for FDI (Foreign Direct Investment).
“It is the main focus of the IDA to attract and sustain FDI to Sligo. Employment in these companies in Ireland are at an all time high and in direct wages it is worth some €8.5 billion annually. In Sligo there are 20 companies employing 2,000-plus people,” he said.
The direct boost to the local economy for Sligo from these companies is something which John Nugent highlighted as a very important reason to focus on for the Council.
“If a company in Sligo employs 100 people at an average wage of roughly €40,000 per year then that is worth €4 million to the local economy. It is the equivalent to having the Fleadh for years and years, every year,” he commented.
One of the cornerstones of making Sligo appealing to companies from overseas is the infrastructure.
Currently, the IDA are developing a new site at Oakfield due to Finisklin nearly reaching its capacity, but what companies are looking for goes beyond this, according to John Nugent.
“Roads and infrastructure is something which is key to stakeholders. Sligo is one of three urban centres in the border region. Companies are seeing scale and that is population, skilled workers and infrastructure,” he said.
Under a new strategy put forward by the IDA nationally, the hope is to expand stakeholders throughout Ireland.
In the Border region, which Sligo comes under, it is John Nugent’s hope to increase Sligo from the 47 it has currently to 61 in the coming years.
Of paramount importance to this coming to fruition is the development of the new site in Oakfield.
“There is a €150 million development in Oakfield and planning permission for a new facility in Finisklin which will bring it close to capacity. It is critical for us to develop new facilities,” John Nugent commented.
CEO of Sligo County Council, Ciarán Hayes gave assurances that the development of the new Oakfield site would be an important focus for the Council.
“The Oakfield site is very positive and we [the Council] will have a detailed look. It is a serious investment and we will advance that as soon as we can,” he said.