Good afternoon everyone.
Thank you, Caroline for the introduction.
Deputies, Senators, elected representatives, ladies and gentlemen, it’s a pleasure to be here with you today to launch our new Regional Enterprise Plan for the Dublin region.
I know many of you present here today were pivotal to its creation. A particular thanks to Susan Spence who many of you know, who of course chaired the Dublin Regional Enterprise Steering Committee and to Caroline Power, Programme Manager, for your commitment, time and effort.
Some might say the Dublin region shouldn’t be part of the conversation about regional economic development, but I don’t believe this is the case. Dublin is a region: a city region of European and international scale. Dublin competes internationally and often, what’s lost to Dublin is lost to Ireland
Our regional development plans are about creating jobs in every county, in every part of Ireland.
And while Dublin is an economic hub, where approximately 50% of jobs are, it has its own unique challenges.
In an increasingly competitive and uncertain global environment, we cannot take recent levels of investment or jobs growth for granted.
Indeed, the attractiveness of Dublin has created its own issues, ones we are all very aware of, such as the need to invest more in infrastructure like housing, water service, energy and public transport.
We must be constantly pushing to eliminate pinch points, to identify opportunities and to position Dublin favourably among the other capital cities it competes with globally.
The success of the Dublin region has spill over benefits for every part of Ireland.
We have seen many companies establish themselves in Dublin before expanding to other parts of Ireland.
And teams based in a company’s Dublin HQ office collaborating with our universities and other businesses across the country.
Just a few words on the bigger picture.
This plan is just one of nine we have published, covering every county in the country.
Each plan has been agreed by the local community, who are best placed to know what is best for their local area.
We’ve put €180 million behind the plans. This will fund collaborative and innovative enterprise projects – projects that will not just sustain but add to employment at county, regional and national level.
The pandemic and the war in Ukraine have increased the cost of completing many enterprise projects which have been funded under the Regional Enterprise Development Fund.
For that reason, €6 million has been set aside this year and a further €6 million over the following years to assist those projects which have been delayed and incurred increased costs in the delivery of their originally approved projects.
Enterprise Ireland is in the process of contacting eligible projects regarding this fund.
To create a strong pipeline of projects for future funding calls Enterprise Ireland has also announced a new competitive ‘priming’ and ‘feasibility’ scheme fund of up to €5 million.
Substantial funding will also be made available up to 2027 for regional enterprise projects under funding from the European Regional Development Fund.
As part of the Government’s Shared Island Initiative and under the revised National Development Plan, I’m also preparing a scheme to do more to promote and facilitate enterprise development on a cross-border basis, including on clustering, innovation diffusion and entrepreneurship links. And cross-border isn’t and shouldn’t be just about the border counties it should also involve much deeper co-operation between the two largest cities on the island, Dublin and Belfast.
This funding will help ensure that the coming years will be an exciting time for the Regional Enterprise Plans to further establish their mark in the regions.
Dublin is well positioned to compete for future funding given its success in earlier regional funding schemes. Indeed, some of you will be aware that our hosts here today, the Linc has been a beneficiary of regional funding securing over €2.1 million for a learning and innovation centre for Cyber Security, Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence.
The last two years have been a difficult road for many. The pandemic is not yet over and Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine has brought more tragedy and uncertainty.
However, there are lots of reasons to be hopeful.
Irish exporting companies recorded their highest ever jobs gain in 2021.
We also saw the highest ever jobs gain in the multinational sector in a single year last year.
We now have 2.48 million people at work. That’s a record.
Trade in 2021 broke all records.
It would be remiss of me not to mention our climate obligations.
We’ve committed to a 51% reduction in emissions by 2030.
Enterprises will have a huge role to play in helping us reach this goal.
Building sustainable, low carbon businesses is now an imperative, not only from a social and environmental perspective, but also from a competitiveness and security perspective.
I want to reassure business owners that the Government will help you make this transition. Whether you’re a SME or large business, we will meet you where you’re at and help you make the changes that are necessary.
So, thank you all for being here today. I know a lot of work went into getting to this point. Thank you for that and I look forward to working with you to implement this plan.