Low level of IDA sponsored site visits to North West

Two visits to Sligo – 82 to sites in Dublin.

Fresh buildings needed to attract new industry – existing older premises ‘not suitable.’

Sligo News File.

The North West fared poorly in IDA site visits during the earlier part of 2017.

Data released by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Frances Fitzgerald has revealed that Sligo, for instance, had only two IDA-led potential investor visits in the first quarter of 2017. Site visits to other regional locations included just one to Donegal and one to Leitrim. Roscommon had one visit, Mayo none. In the same period, however, the IDA organised 82 visits to sites in Dublin – 80 more than Sligo. There were ten each to Limerick and Clare, nine to Cork and twenty-three to Galway.

This week, a Ballymote TD Eamon Scanlon has called on the Fianna Fail supported Government to immediately lay on funds for a Sligo inner relief road which, he submitted, is needed to accommodate the development of new industrial estates.

“Currently in Sligo,” he claimed, “IDA Ireland has not a square inch of land on which to build a plant or factory, mainly because the Finisklin industrial estate is full to the brim.”

However, last year the Sligo Progressive quoted John Nugent, Regional Business Development Manager with the IDA stating, “There are quite a few vacant commercial premises in the town centre and around the periphery from Collooney down to Finisklin and down to Cleveragh and at other locations. “But they are older buildings and not suitable for the type of companies we see coming through to Sligo.”

He reportedly instanced the kinds of businesses the IDA envisaged for the area. “If it’s manufacturing it will tend to be in a fairly advanced clean industry like medical devices where there are cleanliness height requirements, for clean rooms and similar facilities.

“Or it may be the technology or a services company. We can see what companies need and the building stock that is currently available in Sligo does not really meet those needs.”

The IDA had just embarked on the construction of a new 31,000 sq ft advanced technological building at Finisklin, expected to be completed by last November. Two other advanced factories were also being built in Castlebar and Tralee.

Nugent is said to have stated, “We don’t want to be using up millions of euros of taxpayers money to erect buildings. In a normal functioning property market, banks and developers would play in that space for us.

“But in places like Castlebar, Tralee and Sligo, it is clear that the banks and developers will not develop because it is higher risk. They do not want to speculate.”

Deputy Scanlon said Sligo County Council has applied for funding for an inner relief road, “which is expected to cost around €14m. It is essential that this money is approved because without it investment in the region will remain static,” he added.