Magazine article Management Today

Northern Ireland's Green Pastures: A Host of Leading Companies Is Choosing Northern Ireland as the Ideal Location

Magazine article Management Today

Northern Ireland's Green Pastures: A Host of Leading Companies Is Choosing Northern Ireland as the Ideal Location

Article excerpt

A HOST OF LEADING COMPANIES IS CHOOSING NORTHERN IRELAND AS THE IDEAL LOCATION

Northern Ireland is increasingly being recognised as a highly profitable business location by leading corporations from all around the world. Figures released recently by the region's Industrial Development Board (IDB) show that during the financial year ended 31 March 1994, the Board promoted more than 2,300 new overseas jobs - its highest annual tally since its launch in 1982. During the same period. a total of 26 overseas manufacturers invested just under 300 million in this part of the UK, again for a record figure for the IDB.

So why are some of the world's best-known companies, including United Technologies, Du Pont, Fruit of the Loom, Fujitsu, Kyocera, Daewoo, 3M, Hoechst, Michelin and Ford, choosing Northern Ireland as a manufacturing location?

High-technology manufacturers setting up in the region cite the quality of the local labour force as one of its main attractions. Workers, they say, are available in abundance and they are flexible and adaptable with a better industrial-relations record than their counterparts in other parts of Europe.

It was the availability of quality labour that originally helped persuade Seagate Technology to set up a recently opened 45 million computercomponents plant in londonderry. So impressed has Seagate been in Northern Ireland, that in January 1994, even before the new factory was finished, it announced plans to locate a 15 million R&D facility - its first in Europe - on the same site.

Valence Technology Inc - another Silicon Valley company - was also attracted by Northern Ireland's plentiful supply of skilled workers. Valence is currently establishing a new 76 million plant close to Belfast. Expected to employ 660 people by 1998, the plant will initially produce batteries for Motorola, the world's biggest maker of portable-radio and cellular-communication products.

For recent investors, another important consideration is Northern Ireland's low-cost structure. Labour costs in the region are among the lowest in Europe. Low accommodation costs and the fact that all manufacturers are exempt from property taxes ensure that operational costs for a company in Northern Ireland can be much lower than in many other European locations.

This cost advantage was one of the reasons why, earlier this year, Korean company Shinsung Industrial announced plans to establish a printedcircuit-board plant in Ballymena, Co Antrim. …

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