by John Lee
Well, to be honest, everybody sees 50 shades of green in Ireland, but what business leaders see are lush, verdant greens of a fertile environment for business growth. So when North American C-Suites look to establish a European presence for their businesses or to expand current operations there, increasingly they look to Ireland.
They’re seeing more that the Guinness and the golf, though those are two compelling attractions.
What they are seeing is a natural gateway to the rest of Europe, an easy hop to all the capitals of the continent.
They’re finding that Ireland is the only English-speaking country in the Eurozone, offering barrier free access to over 500 million European consumers.
That it’s populated by one of Europe’s youngest and most highly-educated workforces.
Over 1,100 multi-nationals have chosen Ireland as their strategic European base. Some of the biggest names in US and multinational business are flourishing in Ireland’s corporate ecology, including:
- 9 of the top 10 global software companies
- 9 of the top 10 US technology companies
- 10 of the top 10 “Born on the Internet” companies
- 9 of the top 10 global pharmaceutical corporations
- 15 of the top 20 global medical technology companies
- 3 of the top 5 US games publishers
- More than 50% of the world’s leading financial services firms
To put some names on those numbers we’re talking about Google, LinkedIn, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, IBM, Microsoft, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Prudential, Citi, Mastercard, Accenture, SAP, Fidelity, Fujitsu, and so many more. Quite a tech cluster—you know these companies wouldn’t be in Ireland without superb data transmission and digital asset hosting capabilities.
Various international business studies and indexes have named Ireland “#1 in the World” for:
- availability of skilled labor
- flexibility & adaptability of workforce
- investment incentives
- productivity & efficiency of companies
- inward investment by quality and value
And “#1 in Europe” for:
- Ease of paying business taxes
- Being most entrepreneurial country
Ireland is also known for its pro-business tax environment–12.5 percent corporation tax, 25 percent R&D tax credit–and the financial incentives it makes available to support companies.
Here’s a negative that Ireland turns into a positive: take away its agricultural land, its great tourism business, the aforementioned golf, a vibrant culture that gives Ireland an outsized presence in the world, and you’ll find a country pretty much lacking money-making natural resources—except for its people. Those people and their government know they have to bend over backward to bring businesses and jobs to Ireland…and they do just that.
Ireland’s inward investment promotion agency, IDA Ireland (Industrial Development Agency) is responsible for the attraction and development of foreign investment in Ireland. The first stop for businesses considering an Ireland location, IDA Ireland has seven offices in the United States.
Another resource is ConnectIreland, which rewards people for making the introductions that result in new jobs coming to Ireland and helps smaller scaled-businesses operation take root on the Emerald Isle.
The center of Irish business is Dublin which has morphed into a vibrant cosmopolitan capital, with Cork in the role of “second city” for foreign investment, but last year 45 percent of the jobs from foreign direct investment were outside of those two cities.
There are a lot of great business reasons for the C-Suite to look to Ireland when they look to expand in Europe. There’s also the natural warmth of its people, the scenery, the great music, the town and country charm, the burgeoning farm-to-table cuisine, the sports, the theater scene, the whiskey, the Guinness and the golf…and all those shades of green.
John Lee is a senior account executive for TallGrass Public Relations and is the producer of All Business with Jeffrey Hayzlett on the CBS RADIO network Play.it. Active on the Irish scene, he’s a frequent panel moderator at the annual Ireland Day at NYSE and New York New Belfast conferences, and serves as the Chairman of the Board of Advisors of the Irish Business Organization of New York. He’d be happy to connect you to the right person to answer your questions about expanding your business to Ireland. Follow him at @johnleemedia.