Irish business development agency establishing Texas office

IDA Ireland, a governmental agency responsible for business development, is establishing a Texas-based office. Team members include (from left): Enda Meehan, senior vice president and director of the Austin office; Sean Storan, vice president; Patrick M. Howlin, executive vice president and director of North America operations; and Gerard Hayes, vice president. IDA Ireland, a governmental agency responsible for business development, is establishing a Texas-based office. Team members include (from left): Enda Meehan, senior vice president and director of the Austin office; Sean Storan, vice president; Patrick M. Howlin, executive vice president and director of North America operations; and Gerard Hayes, vice president.[/caption]

The state of Texas will soon be home to the Irish governmental agency responsible for helping U.S. businesses expand to Europe.

IDA Ireland, a business development team tasked with attracting foreign investments to their country, is establishing an office along downtown Congress Avenue in Austin in the coming weeks. The group will share space with a new Irish consulate, said Pat Howlin, director of IDA Ireland’s North American operations.

"This is a Texas office that happens to be in Austin," Howlin said, emphasizing his group's focus on the entire state, especially its technology, bioscience, engineering and financial services sectors—many of which already invest in Ireland.

Two IDA Ireland team members will immediately be based in Austin. Sean Storan, a vice president with the governmental agency, will work with more established companies that might already have a presence in Europe, and his colleague Gerard Hayes will oversee emerging technology companies as they expand and potentially move into European markets.

"There are a lot of similarities between Ireland and the ecosystem here in Texas," Hayes said. "There's been tremendous growth here in the state of Texas, particularly in the emerging environment, and i think you're seeing the same in Ireland."

IDA Ireland will have a presence at the South by Southwest start-up village, Hayes said, including a panel discussion with business executives already established in Ireland. The panel will be held at 5 p.m. March 14 at the Hilton Austin, he said.

"They'll be speaking in terms of how it was for them setting up in Ireland," Hayes said. "It's a good opportunity for companies here in Austin and Texas to come and here that pitch."

IDA Ireland has locations in many of the other major U.S. markets, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Irvine, Calif. (Orange County), Mountain View, Calif. (Silicon Valley), and New York City. Enda Meehan, IDA Ireland senior vice president of the Austin office, will split his time between Texas and his Chicago office.

Meehan estimates there are already 1,200 international companies established in Ireland, including more than half from North America.

"So there is a long track record of U.S. companies establishing international operations in Ireland," Meehan said.

The goal of IDA Ireland's Texas operation is not to immediately lure businesses to Ireland, Howlin said. Instead, Howlin said his team intends on working with companies to establish their footprint in European markets and help others expand.

"It's probably a longer term kind of relationship building, but it's positioning ourselves to be in the right place at the right time when an opportunity for a company does come along," Howlin said.

For more information, visit the IDA Ireland website or read this infographic detailing the group's efforts.
By Joe Lanane
Joe Lanane’s career is rooted in community journalism, having worked for a variety of Midwest-area publications before landing south of the Mason-Dixon line in 2011 as the Stillwater News-Press news editor. He arrived at Community Impact Newspaper in 2012, gaining experience as editor of the company’s second-oldest publication in Leander/Cedar Park. He eventually became Central Austin editor, covering City Hall and the urban core of the city. Lanane leveraged that experience to become Austin managing editor in 2016. He managed eight Central Texas editions from Georgetown to San Marcos. Working from company headquarters, Lanane also became heavily involved in enacting corporate-wide editorial improvements. In 2017, Lanane was promoted to executive editor, overseeing editorial operations throughout the company. The Illinois native received his bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University and his journalism master’s degree from Ball State University.


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