North Western Region
Chair American Chamber North Western Group
As well as being geographically diverse – the range of the foreign direct investment in the North West Region is reflected in the fact that leading companies in sectors such as pharmaceuticals, financial services and advanced manufacturing have made it their home. In spite of the on-going challenges to traditional manufacturing operations the existence of a highly motivated and flexible workforce, together with residential property costs significantly lower than the national average are just some of the attractions bringing leading US companies to the region. In addition the North West Region boasts an excellent quality of life in terms of culture, landscape, outdoor pursuits and short commute times.
The American Chamber of Commerce has a natural role in representing the business interests of US companies at government level and companies involved in commerce between US and Ireland in the North West Region. The vision of the Regional Group is to contribute to the development of a sustainable high quality environment and quality of life that is internationally competitive. In addition to the Chairman of the Region based in Sligo, Fergal Broder, and in recognition of the geographical spread of the area, the American Chamber established the Vice Chairman of the Region - Henry McGarvey of Pramerica- situated in Letterkenny. In this way the American Chamber can respond locally while emphasising the overall voice of the North West Region at national level.
US companies have helped transform the region providing valuable employment in areas hardest hit during the 1980’s recession. Moreover this decade has seen an increase in investment in the region, most notably centred on Sligo and Letterkenny, two of Ireland’s fastest growing Gateway Towns. The ongoing success of companies such as Pramerica, MBNA and Pacificare in the financial services sector and as well as Abbott and Zeus in the medical devices area demonstrate that the North West can continue to attract valuable investment. The quality of life enjoyed here makes the region attractive not only to investors but also to highly skilled graduates.
US Companies in the North West support over 5,000 direct jobs and are a major force of economics of the region. Many are leaders in their field operating in sectors as diverse as pharmaceuticals, financial services and advanced manufacturing.
In 2008 the American Chamber North Western Group continued to highlight the region’s infrastructure requirements - including improvements in transport linkages, international access to the region, creating centres of excellence, improved businessclass telecommunications services and wider broadband penetration. These matters remain key to maintaining the cost competitiveness of the region and in attracting further investment. Similarly, the burden of increased environmental waste regulation remains a concern of regional members.
In 2008 the North West Regional Group of the American Chamber launched our business agenda at a meeting in March, kindly hosted at the facilities of Abbott Ireland Diagnostics in Sligo. Also included on the agenda for this first gathering was Liam Scollan, Director, Ireland West Airport (Knock) and Michael Nolan of the NRA – sharing their perspectives and gaining feedback on the development of regional infrastructure. The autumn meetings of the Chamber’s regional membership in both Sligo at LotusWorks, & Letterkenny at Zeus, focused on the development of national social legalisation under the Partnership agreement process and an update for the Chamber’s national Taxation Working Group on tax priorities for the multinational community.
In 2009, the North West Regional Group of the American Chamber will continue to work on prioritising key areas, which are perceived as vital to developing US industry in the Region. These priorities will form a key part of the Chamber’s representation work at a regional level. Priorities rest very much in sustaining an internationally competitive and quality environment for companies based in the region into the foreseeable future and focusing also on enhancing the region to attract more of this level of US investment.
While the North West Group warmly welcomes the additional services being announced between Ireland West Airport and London Gatwick for 2009, there is also keen interest in the enhancement of cross-border linkages to Derry/Belfast and Dublin (N2), the completion of the western corridor and the continued upgrading of the road network between the North West and Dublin to ease international access to and from firm’s operations in the area.
North Western at a Glance
The North Western region comprises of counties Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim. The region has a population of over 235,000. The principal towns in the region include Sligo (17,892), Donegal, Letterkenny and Carrick-on-Shannon. The North Western Region provides a ready supply of skills, efficient and cost-effective infrastructure, services and employment to attract investment.
- The North West is a progressive region that has attracted some of the world’s leading companies In total there are 31 FDI companies in the region.
- The region hosts sectors as diverse as pharmaceuticals, financial services and advanced manufacturing.
- The region is very accessible by road, air and rail. It is served by a number of national primary road routes connecting it to Ireland’s major cities. The nearby airports in Sligo, Donegal, Derry and Knock International have daily flights to Dublin, the UK and Europe while the international reach of Dublin and Belfast International Airport respectively extends that access to the North America, the Middle East and a wider network of European destinations.
Knowledge Infrastructure North Western Lifestyle
- The North Western Region has a network of developed quality Business Parks run by Ireland’s Industrial Development Authority (IDA) with the necessary telecommunications, utilities, infrastructure and buildings / site options to cater for the needs of multinational clients.
- There are three 3rd level institutions in the North Western region with a combined student enrollment of almost 7,000 students and approximately 2,500 graduates each year. These colleges have developed strong links with industry over the years. A broad range of courses is provided in Business, Engineering, Science, Nursing, Computing and Design. These Institutes demonstrate excellent flexibility and responsiveness to meeting the skills needs of business and industry located in the area.
- The region has a highly skilled workforce, with a strong work ethic and competitive labour costs. FÁS continues to work closely with industry in the area to develop the skills required by business. In addition, residential property costs in the North West are lower than the national average - all factors that make the region attractive for skilled graduates and inward investors.
North Western Lifestyle
The North Western region has an excellent quality of life and is one of the most picturesque and attractive landscapes in Europe. It is an area with a relatively unspoilt environment, very little congestion and many spots of outstanding natural beauty, particularly its mountains and coastline. Over recent years many people have returned home to work or to start a business. The stunning scenery is matched by the genuine warmth and friendliness of the people. The rich heritage of culture provides every variety of recreational activity from mountaineering, golfing on perfect fairways, to surfing Atlantic rollers.