North Leinster has been a cradle of innovation and knowledge since long before the pyramids and it's time to play to natural strengths of the region. Pictured: the Newgrange megalithic tomb, a World Heritage Site dated at around 3200 BC

Agri-food, tech and innovation to create 25k jobs along Ireland’s commuter belt

11 Jan 2016

Up to 25,000 new jobs are being targeted in vital areas like agri-food, tech manufacturing, digital media, renewable energy and the equine in counties in Ireland’s Mid-East region, including Meath, Kildare, Louth and Wicklow, traditionally the commuter belt feeding the capital city.

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton TD said that the Government is targeting 10-15pc jobs growth in the region in the next two years.

It is the seventh part of the Government’s eight-part jobs plan costed at €250m.

Following the economic crash, employment in the mid-east region has returned to growth, with 14,500 extra people at work in the last two years, up 6.7pc.

During the worst years of the crash in 2008-2011, some 31,900 jobs had been launched in the region.

‘Proximity to Dublin is both a strength and a potential weakness in a unique way for the mid-east region’

Key facets of the plan involve taking advantage of the region’s proximity to road and rail networks and Dublin Airport, as well as the capital city.

The plan envisages a 25pc increase in the number of start-ups in the region, as well as a 25pc improvement in the survival rate among new businesses.

This includes mentoring of more than 2,000 people a year by the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs).

A thriving industrial region with natural strengths

The number of IDA Ireland-supported investments are also targeted to rise by 30-40pc by creating a dedicated regional manager for the mid-east at IDA Ireland and finally marketing the region as ideal for second sites for multinationals in the Dublin region.

Tech manufacturers like Intel and HP have long-established facilities in Leixlip and Facebook is currently building a €200m data centre in Meath.

The plan involves boosting the number of projects around climate change and renewable energy, and playing to the region’s strengths in terms of the equine industry.

The plan involves developing the world-acclaimed audiovisual cluster that has emerged in Wicklow, as well as create a regional arts hub at Maynooth University.

Some regions are already on the road in terms of playing to their strengths in agri-food, such as the Boyne Valley Food Hub in Meath, which has the ambition of becoming the Silicon Valley of food production. The plan involves food tourism measures, the creation of a Food Works Clinic in the mid-east in 2016 and targeting food companies in these regions to scale and innovate.

“Proximity to Dublin is both a strength and a potential weakness in a unique way for the mid-east region,” Minister Bruton said.

“The region suffered badly during the crash, with 31,000 jobs lost and the construction sector particularly impacted. Over recent years, thanks to the ingenuity of its workers and businesses, it has begun to recover strongly, but we must do more.

“Through this plan we are aiming to build on the specific strengths in the region, like the equine industry, the film industry, and high-value manufacturing, as well as more traditional sectors like agri-food and tourism,” the Minister added.

Newgrange image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy
By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years. His interests include all things technological, music, movies, reading, history, gaming and losing the occasional game of poker.

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