Mulherin calls on IDA to build advanced technology building in Ballina

Mayo Fine Gael Senator Michelle Mulherin is seeking a meeting with the IDA in her campaign to have an advanced technology building provided in Ballina to attract foreign direct investment into North and East Mayo.

The Ballina based Senator said: "The town needs to be put on the map so that companies can see not just a field, but a building with the capacity to expand.

"I get this message from management of existing FDI companies already in the area regularly and if the Minister facilitates this she will put us in a better position to attract the jobs we want and which we are willing and able to have in the north and east of Mayo.

"I am pleased that Minister Humphries has indicated that she would put the request to the IDA and that the IDA at regional level should make a case to the Board of the IDA. I am arranging a meeting with the IDA in that regard.

"There are lots of good things in the pipeline including the €3.2 million that I secured for my home town of Ballina to create a digital and innovation hub at the old military barracks.

"The challenge is to shunt growth outwards and achieve balanced regional development in accordance with the objective of Project Ireland 2040 to grow the population outside of Galway, Dublin and the other big urban centres.

"Strategic objective number six of the regional enterprise plan is to 'Enhance the quality and availability of enterprise space in the West'.

"The chair of the Action Plan for Jobs regional steering committee, Mr. Gerard Kilcommins of Medtronic, at the recent launch of the Regional Enterprise Plan, outlined his experience of being the chair and looked at the entire region. He acknowledged that the biggest challenge is to spread job growth throughout the region.”

Senator Mulherin said that the announcement of 150 jobs by US firm Meissner in Castlebar was wonderful news, but it was more difficult to attract foreign investors into the more peripheral areas of Mayo.

"I am asking the Minister how we can put north Mayo, east Mayo and Ballina on the map as an economic driver for the region. How can we attract more foreign direct investment? We already have a success story in Coca-Cola's presence in Ballina, which employs about 500 people.

"Hollister's operation in Ballina employs 800 people. We have foreign direct investment from about six companies including Lionbridge Technologies, which tests software. These are very welcome and they have grown in the last several years but we want new investment, that makes sense.

"We may have issues regarding connectivity and roads, but I have spoken with management of several of these companies and what we have to offer is quality of life which is a great selling point. We have never had better sports facilities and there are school places and houses.

"Moreover, the cost of living is much lower than in Dublin. Let us face it - all jobs are welcome, but if all the investment is in Dublin and Galway, those centres will cave in on themselves. They cannot take the pressure. We know about the shortage of housing and school places.

"One solution that has been suggested by some of the multinational companies driving foreign direct investment is the construction of an advanced technology building.

"We know that it was key to Meissner's choice to invest in Castlebar. That was stated at the launch. Even the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Deputy Ring, who was officiating, said we need to build more such facilities.

"I am asking for an advanced technology building to be provided in Ballina, which is the biggest town in the area. The town needs to be put on the map so that companies can see not just a field, but a building with the capacity to expand."


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