Welcoming the announcement of 50 new jobs and a €12 million investment at the Vitalograph plant last week, Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey said he hoped it would be the first of a series of major employment initiatives in the Ennis area.

Deputy Carey, who was recently appointed Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Rural and Community Affairs, said he was delighted to see new enterprise and investment coming to areas outside the bigger population centres such as Limerick and Galway.

“These are high value jobs, including software designers and engineers, and the fact that they will be working on such an exciting project as testing the efficacy of new cough medicines, opens up the possibility of even greater levels of investment in the future.

“This is the kind of initiative that will benefit not only the greater Ennis area but the many smaller communities where these new jobs will have positive benefits. Many of those employed in Vitalograph are living in rural areas where local services are under threat and this latest investment will bring new hope and confidence to those communities,” Deputy Carey explained.

And he is now working on a proposal to rejuvenate the Business and Technology Park, which is currently marketed as Ennis Information Age Park, opposite the Vitalograph plant on the Gort Road, Ennis.

He has held discussions with Clare County Council, the Shannon Group and IDA Ireland to establish a joint venture to promote the Park and the adjoining Our Lady’s Hospital site as a location for medium sized enterprises.

“I believe the time is right to bring these key stakeholders together to address the current imbalance that exists between Ennis’ foreign direct investment (FDI) and that of the Mid West Region which is now the fastest growing region for FDI in Ireland, outside of Dublin.

“This is best illustrated by the fact that for the three years up to the end of 2016, jobs growth in Limerick was nine times greater than the combined total for Clare,” he explained.

The Clarecastle TD says that large provincial towns such as Ennis need appropriately scaled FDI to sustain and grow the local economy and community.

“IDA Ireland says it wants to increase regional dispersal of investments and this, coupled with an improving economy, provides a great opportunity to develop an imaginative property solution in Ennis to help secure at least one FDI project with the potential to create 100 new jobs.

“Property solutions are a key element in winning FDI projects. I believe that the former Our Lady’s Hospital site on the Gort Road would be a suitable location for redevelopment as a high quality enterprise centre. I have already asked that capital works would be undertaken to provide advanced factories and modern office space in the Ennis area, similar to what is being developed on the Shannon Free Zone,” he revealed.

“IDA site visits are up in Clare this year and investors are looking at Shannon as a suitable location principally because there is now somewhere to bring them. If a similar initiative was undertaken in Ennis, I have no doubt but that many new jobs would be created,” Deputy Carey said.

ABOVE: Joe Carey and Ennis Chamber President William Carey at the Our Lady’s site in Ennis.