“Whether it’s the Limerick 2030 plan or the opportunities coming from Galway’s 2020 European Capital of Culture, there is a growing sense of momentum in the Shannon and Mid-West region. Strong regions make for a strong national economy, which is hugely important in ensuring balanced regional development,” says Ray O’Driscoll, Managing Director, Shannon Commercial Properties, a Shannon Group company, which is undertaking a first phase €25 million investment at one of Ireland’s best known and most historic industrial park, the Shannon Free Zone in Co. Clare.
Just over two years after the formation of Shannon Group plc, its property wing, Shannon Commercial Properties is putting the finishing touches on the first phase of a wider redevelopment programme that will transform the global birthplace of Free Trade Zones and provide state-of-the art commercial property solutions for US companies seeking to establish an EU base post-Brexit.
The company owns and manages one of Ireland’s largest property portfolios, incorporating eight business and technology parks, over 2.4 million sq ft of building space, over 300 buildings and in excess of 1,600 acres of development land in over 40 locations across counties Clare, Limerick, Tipperary, Offaly and Kerry.
O’Driscoll believes that the Mid-West region has the winning ingredients to attract new US investment in a post-Brexit environment.
“Already home to 150 companies employing in excess of 7,000 employees, the Shannon Free Zone (SFZ) is one of the region’s core assets and the investment programme underway will help deliver significant new advanced manufacturing, warehousing and office space solutions to support the IDA led drive for inward investment into the region,” he says.
The largest Aviation/Aerospace cluster in Ireland is in the SFZ with over 50 companies employing almost 2,000 people. In addition, the SFZ is the base for clusters of ICT, Medical Device, Financial Services, Manufacturing, Engineering and Distribution companies. Companies in the SFZ include Dell EMC, Intel, Aercap, GECAS, Lufthansa Technik, GE Sensing.
“Just over 12 months ago we announced our €25 million first phase programme for the redevelopment of the Shannon Free Zone and have already completed over €8 million worth of projects, with another €17 million set for completion in 2017,”says O’Driscoll.
The latest project to get underway is a €4 million redevelopment of 100,000 sq. ft. of industrial unit, formerly known as the Boart building, adjoining Shannon Airport lands, into office space, engineering workshop and warehousing facility, which will be completed by May and will support 70 jobs during construction.
This latest development is another project in what has been a very busy and successful year for Shannon Commercial Properties. Other SFZ projects in the pipeline include a 55,000 sq. ft Grade A office block at an estimated cost of approx. €10 million. Construction of this block is expected to commence in February 2017. In addition, construction of a 33,000 sq. ft. advanced manufacturing unit will commence in May 2017 at a cost of approx. €4 million.
Projects completed in the last year include €6 million investment in a 67,000 sq. ft. advanced technology manufacturing facility extension for GE Sensing at Shannon Free Zone East; a €1.3 million to the refurbishment of a 56,000 sq. ft. office and warehousing facility for Magellan Aviation Services Ltd and a €1 million refurbishment of Universal House, a four-storey office block in Shannon Free Zone West.
“These investments are in no small part motivated by growing inward investment activity in the region. We have a very competitive and affordable operating environment, very strong third level institutions on our doorstep in Galway and Limerick, a superb location on the Wild Atlantic Way with an airport at its centre, all of which make it a great place to live, work and spend leisure time.
“I am really encouraged by the level of commitment and pro-business approach of the City and County Councils in the Mid-West and West coast. Together with the great work that the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland, IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland are doing, there is a shared vision of the potential of our region. We are committed to ensuring that our region is to the forefront with US companies in a post-Brexit environment,” said O’Driscoll.