MEP Sean Kelly has called for the establishment of an online local skills database to promote Irish rural locations like Ennis, with a view to increasing the geographical spread of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
“In order to encourage a more regional spread of FDI in Ireland, we need to promote the advantages of our regions and the educated workforce people based there,” said Mr Kelly, who is MEP of the Year for Research and Innovation.
He noted how an excellent initiative running in the US State of Indiana provides a working example of how Ireland could launch a skills database.
“The Indiana Economic Development Corporation launched a website which provides prospective investors/business owners with a quick search facility listing population, percentage of people with degrees and other useful statistics for each town/region.So if we were to launch that service in Ireland, an investor could easily examine the possibility of locating a business in Ennis, for example.
“We already have a great deal of information at hand via the CSO and each region could help input further data or links to relevant information, such as unemployment levels, average cost of housing, average household income or available office space. Moreover, it would allow us to promote our rural towns so that we could spread the job creation and economic benefits of FDI across Ireland, based on available resources and skilled communities.
“It is important to note the welcome increase in technology and web-based companies that are increasing their presence in Ireland. These multinationals that trade with customers online are more flexible in terms of location and could just as easily be based in Ennis as in Dublin. Indeed, employees can be attracted by the opportunity to live in a more rural location than major cities,” he said.
Mr Kelly said the launch of a skills database could reinvigorate local campaigns to promote rural towns and benefit the agencies responsible for attracting investment like the IDA.