Looking back on 2017, Enterprise Ireland had a good year.
At its Enterprise Ireland end of year results event yesterday, the headline grabbing numbers were great. Some 10,309 net jobs created by the state agency’s supported companies, two-thirds of client employment outside of Dublin and 232 client investments securing investments up to €500,000.
The state agency’s plan to diversify has been working, too. Fifty-six Irish companies are exporting outside of Britain for the first time. Last year, 1,391 new overseas contracts were secured.
Sectors like construction, engineering and life sciences saw an 8 per cent growth, while digital technology companies grew by 6 per cent and food companies by 4 per cent.
Overall, employment in Enterprise Ireland clients grew by 5 per cent. Some of the best growth figures came from the west, mid-west and south of the country. Leitrim came out on top with 12 per cent growth, followed by Sligo at 11 per cent and Galway at 10 per cent. It’s certainly a welcome change from the heaps of job announcements that come from the capital.
But could all this good news lead to complacency? After all, as one fellow reporter pointed out, Enterprise Ireland still has a 50 per cent diversification target to hit to buffer us from Brexit. As the Brexit negotiations approach phase two, is good news in fact, bad?
Julie Sinnamon, chief executive of Enterprise Ireland, admitted that in the beginning, companies were initially in denial.
While positive numbers are a good thing, perhaps bad news might beat Irish companies into action.
“Many are seeing the impact on their cash and profits, which impacts on investments and innovation,” she said.
It is just over three months after the state agency announced it was aiming to diversify their client’s market portfolio to 50 per cent outside of Britain, a year-and-a-half since our neighbours voted for Brexit and a year to go until the divorce from the EU is finalised. Needless to say, it’s crunch time for Brexit planning.