A smart approach

Business | Fri 31 May | Author – Business & Finance

A ConnectIreland concept geared towards creating jobs in Ireland is attracting much attention, both in Ireland and abroad.

ConnectIreland is an innovative way to create new jobs in Ireland by harnessing the power of the global Irish diaspora, both at home and abroad. Its mission is to attract foreign companies that are expanding internationally to Ireland through ordinary people – creating jobs and securing the future of the Irish economy.

Ireland is a fantastic place to do business. Comparing countries on what projects are attractive, and not just the number of jobs, is therefore an increasingly important metric for gauging inward investment performance.

According to the IBM 2012 Global Location Trends Report, Ireland continues to be the world’s top ranking country on this measure.

Many of the world’s biggest companies have located their European or international operations in Ireland. Now is the time to get the message out to smaller companies that are expanding internationally. Once they realise the advantages of Ireland, the hope is they’ll also locate here and create new jobs.

Irish people at home and abroad have a massive global network of family, friends and connections, many of whom have contacts in companies that are expanding internationally.

Through ConnectIreland, everyone (regardless of nationality) can support Ireland by introducing the ConnectIreland team to these expanding companies. The company has a 30-strong, dedicated professional team based in Kilkenny, Ireland, which is the central point of contact for all introductions. The team also includes experienced foreign direct investment specialists who will work with companies and help them to understand why they should choose Ireland.

The founder of ConnectIreland, Irish entrepreneur Terry Clune, is funding all the operational costs of the initiative. This includes the cost of all staff, worldwide promotion, office overheads and more. The company will be paid by the State (on a success-only basis) for each job created through ConnectIreland and this payment will range from €1,500 to €150,000, payable two years after each job has been created.

All an individual needs to do is register as a ‘connector’ on ConnectIreland.com, refer a company that is considering an international expansion and they will contact the company to explain the advantages of establishing in Ireland.

The connector

The role of the connector is to make an introduction between a key decision-maker in a company interested in setting up in Ireland and to organise a meeting between that company and the ConnectIreland team. Following an initial meeting, the connector can then step back, allowing the ConnectIreland team to bring the potential project to contract signing phase and gain the approval for the company to invest in Ireland and create jobs. If the company chooses Ireland the connector benefits from the reward, payable by ConnectIreland on behalf of the Irish Government through the Succeed in Ireland initiative.
If one unemployed person obtains a job in a company that came through ConnectIreland, the connector will receive a reward after one year. However, the State will immediately save on reduced social welfare costs (the average annual cost to the State of one unemployed person is €18,000). In addition, the State will receive monies from the new employee through income tax and PRSI, plus VAT they might pay on fuel, food, etc.

Succeed in Ireland

In February 2012, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, launched the Action Plan for Jobs 2012, the aim of which is to make Ireland the best small country in the world in which to do business.

Targets for the plan include having 100,000 more people in work by 2016, with 2 million additional people back in work by 2020. In all, there are more than 270 actions in the plan, one of which is the Succeed in Ireland initiative.

Launching Succeed in Ireland, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny said: “The top priority of this Government is to get Ireland back to work, and the Action Plan for Jobs 2012 was published to address this problem. The Succeed in Ireland initiative will incentivise people around the world, including our diaspora, to be our eyes and ears on the global stage and help deliver new jobs and investment. This is an innovative scheme that offers a new channel to reach thousands of small to medium enterprises around the world and spread the word about Ireland’s strong reputation as a location for business.”

Eamon Gilmore, Tánaiste, added: “I look forward to seeing the aims of the Succeed in Ireland initiative realised and an increase in the number of foreign SMEs investing in Ireland to create sustainable jobs. This is part of the Government’s drive to build on the resource that is Ireland’s diaspora.”

IDA Ireland, with its long and successful history in securing FDI­ for Ireland, is responsible for the Succeed in Ireland initiative and will lend its expertise in turning leads, generated by members of the public with strong links to Ireland, into investment in Ireland. IDA will work closely with the ConnectIreland team, which has been appointed to deliver the initiative, sharing its expertise on turning leads into investment and jobs.

US networks

Minister of State Brian Hayes TD, attended the Irish American Business Network, Irish American Business Chamber Network and IN-Philly event in Philadelphia earlier this year at which ConnectIreland representatives were presenting the initiative for the first time. During his address Minister Hayes welcomed the already hugely successful trade alliance between Ireland and the US and added that the future for trade between the two countries looked bright, particularly with initiatives such as ConnectIreland coming onboard. He highlighted the number of Irish companies in the US employing American citizens already and added that he hoped that, through the ConnectIreland initiative, there would be many more in the future.

ConnectIreland representatives have travelled across several states in the US bringing the ConnectIreland message to global Irish networks and business groups, while also meeting with companies interested in expanding overseas – possibly to Ireland. These trips have proven extremely successful, with several interesting leads being investigated as a result of engagements to date.

*This article was originally published in Doing Business in Ireland 2013.