There has been widespread welcome among local politicians to last Thursday’s announcement that pharmaceutical company PPD Inc is to establish a €14 million research facility in Athlone with the creation of 250 jobs.
However there is concern among TDs that other areas in the Midlands, particularly Mullingar, are not getting their fair share of inward investment.
Emphasising that the decision of American company PPD to locate in Athlone “demonstrated that Ireland remains an attractive hub for investment”, Deputy Willie Penrose also requested that the IDA “redouble their efforts and focus all their energy, expertise, and resources to secure a similar type of industry for the well-appointed IDA Industrial Park, situated at Marlinstown, Mullingar”.
“The people of Mullingar and the surrounding areas are eagerly looking forward to some positive news in this regard. We have all the necessary housing, educational, and leisure facilities; a very well educated, adaptable, and flexible workforce; and the key infrastructure to ensure the IDA can market Mullingar as a key location for inward investment. I hope that this materialises in 2009,” said Deputy Penrose.
“In my role as chairperson of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment, I have already met with executives on the site and a number of visits by interested parties have taken place. I intend to meet with the chief executive of the IDA, Barry O’Leary and midland regional director, Kevin McCarthy, early in the new year to continue to highlight the importance of them making Mullingar a key area for inward investment by the authority in 2009.”
Meanwhile Deputy James Bannon said that investment must be balanced across the region.
“The IDA announcement that PPD Inc is to establish a contract research facility in Athlone is an exciting opportunity for the Midlands but balanced development must be prioritised for the region, with Mullingar and Longford currently being left out of the development loop.”
However, he added that the decision of PPD to expand its base to Ireland, and particularly Athlone, “will provide a welcome injection of confidence in the Midlands which is ideally placed, both geographically and in terms of a well educated and highly trained workforce, to take on this enterprise.
“Athlone Institute of Technology has been a valuable resource for the education and training of personnel who are ready to take on these positions. It is to be hoped that increased investment of this nature, which the college has played its part in securing, will see the demand for university status in the Midlands become a reality,” he added.