Ireland’s Tánaiste, and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Coughlan TD, is on a whistle-stop tour of the US, aiming to encourage more American technology, pharma and financial firms to invest in Ireland.
Some 480 US firms already employ almost 100,000 people in various sectors in Ireland, with a further 220,000 people indirectly employed by these firms.
Minister Coughlan’s (pictured) visit to the US, where she will meet the heads of top US ICT, medical devices, pharmaceutical and financial services firms, comes following news today that the Marriott hotel chain is to create 220 jobs at a new hi-tech call centre that will handle more than 1.5 million calls by the end of 2009.
Pharmaceutical giant Merck Sharp & Dohme is also to create 170 high-quality jobs by 2011 at a business and technology park in Carlow.
In recent weeks, it emerged that Facebook will create 70 jobs in Dublin, in addition to 400 positions being created by US educational publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and 400 jobs by GOA Games Services.
The Minister’s tour of the US will include stops in Boston, San Antonio, Cincinnati, Minneapolis and Chicago.
“The US is our most important source of foreign direct investment (FDI), and today some 480 US companies employ in excess of 95,000 people throughout the country,” Minister Coughlan said.
“Despite the current challenging economic environment, Ireland remains an attractive location in which to do business. The policies we have put in place continue to attract investment and create jobs.
“Over the last number of months, there have been some significant announcements by some of the leading US companies including Genzyme, Abiomed, Freightquote and Cooke Medical. Today, announcements have been made by both Marriott International and Merck Sharp & Dohme creating nearly 400 jobs.”
For two decades, Ireland has attracted a steady flow of US technology companies to its shores including Intel, Microsoft, Google, Dell, Yahoo!, Amazon.com, Apple, Oracle, HP, IBM and eBay, to name a few.
With the youngest population in Europe – over 40pc under the age of 25 – and an educational system ranked fifth in the world in the way it meets the needs of a competitive economy, Ireland’s unique workforce is a key pull factor for US companies, Minister Coughlan pointed out.
In addition, Ireland’s low corporate tax rate of 12.5pc and flexible work practices remain as a bedrock to attracting FDI.
“The message I am taking to the US this week is clear. Ireland, despite the global economic downturn, is open for business. We have a young, highly skilled and highly educated workforce, and we have the right set of flexible policy measures in place to help US corporations achieve their global ambitions.
“The meetings I have scheduled over the next number of days will focus on attracting new investors and on encouraging expansion by US companies already located in Ireland.
“The FDI pipeline into Ireland remains strong, and I am confident that our work this week will result in further investment and jobs in the months and years ahead,” Minister Coughlan added.
By John Kennedy
Pictured: Tánaiste, and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Mary Coughlan TD