Action plan documents released by Governments when there is a general election around the corner come with something of a health warning, but when they are backed up by the same-day announcement of 200 additional jobs at arguably the most significant new employer in Limerick for many years – namely Regeneron in Raheen – then even the most hard-bitten of cynics has reason to be cheerful.
Richard Bruton, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, was in the city again on Monday – which is usually a sign that there is a photo opportunity in the offing as new jobs are announced. Nothing wrong with that – any self-respecting politician will never be backward about putting themselves forward on such occasions, and the real point is that for far too long such happy pictures were few and far between in the Mid-West.
Regeneron’s confidence in its biopharmaceutical operation in Limerick could not be clearer – an estimated additional investment totalling $350 million is resounding evidence of that.
The document released this week is comprehensive and welcome. It portrays the Mid-West region in dynamic terms and correctly identifies cluster strengths in different sectors as the key to future growth.
It remains to be seen how accurate it will have proved when reviewed in 2017, and it should be noted that it is subject to change as new opportunities present themselves. The creation of 23,000 more jobs in the Mid-West, compared to 2014, is the headline number and one that the plan will ultimately be judged against.
Encouragingly, the plan shows that there is now is a more robust policy framework in place locally and while nobody should be getting carried away on the basis of an aspirational document, it was not a surprise to note the optimistic response of the director of policy at Limerick Chamber, Dr Órlaith Borthwick, who said that the Limerick region is now emerging with “a reputation nationally and internationally as a collaborative community with a ‘can-do’ attitude”.
All in all, it was a good week for Limerick Inc.