Great opportunities on horizon: over 700 US companies with Irish bases

American Chamber of Commerce Ireland President Mark Gantly (also of Hewlett Packard), American Chamber director Carin Bryans (JP Morgan), Taoiseach Leo Varadkar,outgoing Am Cham president Barry O’Sullivan (Johnson & Johnson Vision) and American Chamber CEO Mark Redmond.

In Ireland today, there are more than 700 US companies with bases serving global markets.

The sectors where they tend to be found are the most advanced in the world — industries such as information and communications, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical technologies and financial services.

In total, these companies directly employ more than 155,000 people in the Irish economy.

And there’s at least a further 100,000 employed indirectly in support and supply chains.

Altogether, this accounts for around 20% of all employment in Ireland, and a US$446 billion total investment which is almost 70% of all foreign direct investment coming into the country.

Most will agree that this is a remarkable achievement and an investment success story of which we should be rightly proud.

What many people don’t often realise is that it is a two-way story.

AmCham President Mark Gantly and CEO Mark Redmond are welcomed to Killorglin, Kerry, by CEO of Fexco Denis McCarthy for a Summit with members in the region last December.

There are more than 700 Irish companies exporting to the US, and there are 100,000 people employed by Irish affiliated entities in 50 US States.

Smart ideas and decisions — made over decades — ensured that Ireland has emerged, not as a bit-part player but a central driver of business in the 21st century global economy.

It’s true of all business, but especially true of FDI business — that adaption is key to survival. US FDI in Ireland is remarkably resilient. That can be largely attributed to its ability to anticipate and adapt to change. In the context of changes including Brexit, it’s vital that we keep looking ahead, and find the new ideas that will help us to adapt and stay resilient.

In the past five years, we are seeing a significant change in the priorities for FDI companies. Attention has shifted towards a question of how we can attract and retain the best and the brightest from at home and around the world.

The demand for talent is intense globally.

This means our offer as a world-wide destination of choice to work and live must be unquestioned.

In an uncertain world, the factors which influence talent acquisition and retentions are, to a large extent, within our own control.

We need to look towards our cities, to invest in improving quality of life — and that’s everything from choosing a home to better office buildings, from better education choices, to leisure and cultural amenities.

We need to look at making our infrastructure best practice and more connected, both physically and digitally.

Given the diversity of the country’s workforce, we also need to put inclusion at the centre of our agenda.

At present, around 17% of the total population was not born in Ireland. In US multinationals that proportion rises to 27%.

Having a global workforce equipped to serve global markets will be a major differentiator for any country hoping to attract FDI in the future.

Regardless of sector of industry, collaboration is key. Ireland is fortunate to have excellent agencies like IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland working hard on its behalf.

For companies today, there are myriad opportunities to be found by partnering — with startups, inward investors or academic research groups. For would-be entrepreneurs, FDI will continue to be an enabling factor catalysing start-ups and scale-ups through licensing and acquisition.

Facilitating networks

Facilitating those networks and eco-systems is an important part of the AmCham agenda In 2019.

As a country we have weathered much over the past decade. And like the unpredictability of our climate, we must be ready for more change to come.

Knowing that the route to continued success is to anticipate, then be prepared to be flexible and adaptable — I believe we can future proof our economy.

More than that — based on my own personal experience, it will be our ability to listen out and find new ideas, big and small — that will help us navigate and succeed in the way ahead.

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