Independent TD Denis Naughten heralded yesterday’s (Wednesday) announcement by Huawei that its Athlone operation is to form part of a three-year plan to invest €70 million in research and development in the Republic of Ireland as a “significant boost” to the entire region. He added that towns such as Roscommon and Ballinasloe would be among those to benefit.
The Chinese technology firm currently employs about 250 people across its sites in Dublin, Cork and Athlone, and this new investment, which will see a doubling of its investment in Ireland over three years will be focused on developments in video, cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI) and site-reliability engineering.
Speaking following yesterday’s announcement, Deputy Naughten said: “There is no doubt that the Government decision, which I was part of, to designate Athlone as a new potential city is helping to attract jobs investment into the region and ensuring that it is fast becoming the Silicon Heartlands. The town is set to have a bigger percentage of the workforce employed in software development than any other town or city in Ireland or the UK.
“With the construction underway of an advance factory in Athlone, this will make the town and the surrounding counties far more attractive for new foreign jobs investment such as the announcement by Huawei.
“With current employment levels in the software development sector locally, along with job announcements and others to be formally made, Athlone is set to have 15% of its workforce in the software sector which puts it well ahead of Dublin City and its Silicon Docks.
“Towns such as Roscommon have an abundance of ready to move into office space and with a new incubation hub operational in Ballinasloe, other towns in the region are set to benefit from this major growth in the tech sector in Ireland’s Heartland”.
Deputy Naughten added that the objective of creating a hub in Athlone was to attract employers to towns such as Roscommon and Ballinasloe and that this had been set out in the Government’s Project Ireland 2040 plan.
He concluded by highlighting the positive impact of multinational companies on the local economy.
“Apart from direct employment, these multinational companies have a hugely positive effect on the local economy with over eight jobs being created for every ten jobs in multinational companies,” he said.