Category: Archive

Growing pains no more?

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Usually, companies have to spend precious time and resources to get basic information on these subjects. Now Enterprise Ireland, the body that is funded by the Irish State to support indigenous businesses, is hoping to make that process easier.
Last week, Enterprise Ireland launched “Ask U$,” an information guide for Irish entrepreneurs who are considering trying to break into the U.S. market. The guide, which is available both in traditional printed form from Enterprise Ireland offices and online in PDF format, covers the following areas: marketing; establishing your business; tax and finance; immigration; “people, patents and partners.”
“Ask U$” can be accessed on the internet at: http://www.enterprise-ireland.com/Exports/AskUS+Campaign.htm
The guide draws on a variety of experts, bringing together all their advice into one easily digestible format. Accountancy firm Ernst & Young was responsible for the tax information, while the section on immigration was written by O’Brien & Associates, a transatlantic law firm with offices in New York and Kilkenny. Corporate law firm Raynor Rowe penned the guide to establishing a business in the U.S.
The “Ask U$” guide should greatly simplify the process through which Irish firms can inform themselves about the practicalities of expansion into the U.S.
“The guide is most relevant to companies that are exploring the U.S. market,” Marina Donohoe, Enterprise Ireland’s Director Americas, told the Echo. “It will save them quite a bit of time, but it will also save them quite a bit of money. We haven’t put a value on the advice that is provided here, but it would certainly be in the thousands of dollars.”
The idea of a handbook like “Ask U$” had its genesis in the late 90s, when Donohoe ran Enterprise Ireland’s office in Silicon Valley. Finding herself being repeatedly asked the same questions by different Irish tech companies, she drew up a basic Q&A guide. A more advanced version of this advice, much of which related to marketing, appeared three years ago.
But this year’s guide is, according to Donohoe, “the Rolls Royce version”. It is also the first iteration to feature advice from professional experts in the various different fields.
At the launch of the “Ask U$” guide in Dublin last week, Ireland’s Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Micheal Martin, asserted that “‘Ask U$’ is a very useful and significant resource for Irish companies.”
Irish business expansion into the U.S. has increased greatly during the Celtic Tiger years. In 1994, Irish business invested slightly less than $3 billion in this country. Just three years later, that figure had risen to about $10.4 billion. In 2004, the most recent year for which statistics are available, Irish companies invested $21 billion in the US.
According to Enterprise Ireland, there are now over 300 Irish-owned operations in the United States, and those businesses employ over 55,000 people. Last year, 65 Irish companies established offices in the U.S. While the scale of investment going the other way remains still significantly larger — there are almost 500 U.S.-owned companies in Ireland, and they employ over 90,000 people — the statistics nevertheless show the extent to which simplistic complaints about “outsourcing” tend to obscure the degree of inward investment in the United States.
That investment is also relatively widespread: Irish companies have a presence in 35 of America’s 50 states.
Irish companies that have a well-established business in the U.S. include industrial materials giant CRH and Internet learning firm Riverdeep. Newer arrivals like Qumas and Combilift have also made big strides.
There are several factors behind the rise of Irish investment in the U.S. During the height of Ireland’s boom, indigenous companies grew rapidly within the State. Many had to hire more employees just to keep pace with increased demand from Irish customers. As the boom has begun to level off, however, some Irish companies are beginning to once again look abroad in search of fresh growth opportunities
Enterprise Ireland’s director of international sales and partnering, Gerry Murphy, emphasized the benefits of this trend in a December op-ed article for the Irish Times:
“Increasing outward direct investment to the U.S. is indicative of the Republic’s economic maturity and may be the only way in which Irish companies can increase their share of the U.S. market,” Murphy wrote. “This outward investment generates repatriated profits for the Irish economy and is a very positive development in the internationalization of Irish business.”
In the same article, Murphy did not shirk from presenting the challenges that Irish businesses will face as they try to expand into America:
“To be successful in the U.S. Irish companies must show huge commitment from the beginning, with senior management typically relocating to the U.S. for the initial period,” Murphy wrote. “Employing local U.S. staff with the all-important local contact network is also a must. Research not just on the targeted market but also the competition is key.”

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