Just a day after Cork’s minor hurlers dished out a heavy defeat to Waterford, the IDA’s annual report suggested that the Rebels also trumped the Deise when it came to announced investments last year.
But according to the IDA’s south-east regional manager, both Waterford city and county are pulling their respective weights when it comes to attracting new investment.
Were a scoreboard available to illustrate the findings of the IDA report (published last Thursday) regarding individual announced investments in 2007, it would read: Waterford 1 Cork 9.
But speaking to The Munster Express, the IDA’s Siobhan McEvoy said the outlook for Waterford was somewhat sunnier than a particular interpretation of the annual report might otherwise suggest.
“The report included Genzyme’s €20 million investment and the creation of 18 high-level R&D jobs…and investments like this are very important to us when it comes to enticing new businesses into the region,” she said.
“What it demonstrates is Genzyme’s high level of faith in Waterford and its satisfaction with the quality of employee it can source locally, due in no small part to WIT, which is an excellent graduate resource for the region.”
Added Ms McEvoy: “In the case of Genzyme, we use its success and its ongoing investment as an example of demonstrating (to prospective investors) what works well in this area.
“A company seeking to invest looks at several locations and assesses them all under a number of different criteria before making a decision…and it’s worth pointing out how well Waterford has fared so far this year.”
With IVAX (€65 million investment, 165 jobs), GlaxoSmithKline (€30 million, 50 new jobs) Genzyme (€130 million, 170 jobs) and Lancaster Labs (100 jobs) all expanding and investing, Siobhan McEvoy’s contention holds more than a little water.
The role played by Waterford IT cannot be underestimated, according to the IDA’s regional manager.
“WIT really is a fantastic facility and its accessibility to companies interested in establishing themselves in the region has proven a tremendous asset to the IDA,” she added.
“The quality of graduate and the tailoring of courses and programmes to accommodate new industries has made WIT a prime player in establishing Waterford and the region as a whole as a location for investment.
“Companies like (BISYS) Hedge Funds, Sun Life and Genzyme all employ a lot of WIT graduates, proof of the enormous role the institute is playing in the regional economy.”
The IDA Annual Report revealed that R&D accounted for 40 per cent of all national investments in 2007 while 34 per cent of the 114 new investments made last year involved expansions to existing facilities.
Added Siobhan McEvoy: “Waterford has done well this year when it comes to investment and we’re only just into July and hopefully there’ll be more good news for the city, county and region before the end of the year.”
Reacting to the IDA’s annual report, Waterford Chamber CEO Monica Leech singled out WIT’s bid for university status as an essential component in improving the city’s economic attractiveness.
“When the IDA is out there fighting for Ireland inc, Waterford currently remains ill-equipped to fight its corner the way it ought to due to the ongoing absence of a university,” she said.
“From a global point of view, economic expansion rests firmly in both R&D and the knowledge-based sector and until such time as we have a university in Waterford, we are going to find it increasingly difficult to compete.”
Ms Leech said that Waterford Chamber hopes to meet with the IDA’s top brass “within the next 10 days” and has also requested a meeting with Tánaiste/Enterprise and Employment Minister Mary Coughlan.
Asked for a reaction to Cork’s investment performance in 2007 (during Micheal Martin’s time holding the Enterprise and Employment portfolio), Monica Leech said the benefits of having a local in cabinet were self-evident.
“I think no-one knows better than in Waterford the power and influence that comes with having someone at the cabinet table,” she said.
“The differences that we can see are many and have been tremendously advantageous to Waterford and I for one will always support us having a player in the top team.”