A key element of successful companies’ strategic growth is the establishment of an overseas presence. Europe, with its market of 550 million people, and supply of tech talent across 27 countries, has significant attractions. A growing list of Arizona tech firms after careful analysis, selected Ireland to host their European operations, noting the Emerald Isle’s stable political climate, pro-business culture and tech workforce. It builds on the historical links between Arizona and Ireland going back to the state’s mining days starting in the 1850s and has strengthened ever since. We sat down with Ivan Houlihan, head of Western U.S. at IDA Ireland, to find out more about the Arizona-Ireland business connection.
In Business Magazine: Why are Arizona companies opening up offices in Ireland?
Houlihan: More than 14 Arizona-based companies so far chose Ireland to set up a European office, development center or lab in order to expand their international business. These include such leaders as Standard Aero, MSR-FSR, ON Semiconductor, Transact, Microchip Technology and companies in the aviation sector. These companies have similar reasons why they came to Ireland. For starters, Ireland is now the only English-speaking nation in the EU and is similar to Arizona in terms of a shared industrious nature and bonds between industry and academia.
Being located in the world’s largest single market – Europe — was compelling for these Arizona-based companies but another attraction is the fact that so many leading U.S. tech firms already operate there. Today, there are around 900 U.S. companies with Irish locations, including nine of the top 10 U.S. technology companies, the top five global software companies, the top five industrial automation companies and 14 of the top 15 global aircraft lessors.
American leaders such as Microsoft, Intel, Apple and Oracle have been in Ireland for 20 years or more. Companies like Google, Meta/Facebook, Amazon, eBay and Salesforce have been in Ireland for 10 plus years. In 2022 alone, 44 U.S. West Coast companies – part of 167 U.S. companies overall — announced expansions to Ireland.
In Business Magazine: How do Arizona companies benefit from establishing an office in Ireland?
Houlihan: Ireland has a young, well-educated workforce and hiring technology talent, in particular, can be less challenging than in other countries. In fact, Ireland has the highest level of STEM graduates per capita in the EU among 20 to 29 year olds. There are other areas where Ireland stacks up well: its ease of doing business, political stability, a common-law legal system, a dynamic R&D ecosystem and an attractive, transparent and stable tax regime.
Companies opening an overseas operation want to know that the host country is a safe and secure location. Ireland has long had one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe, which is a comfortable situation for U.S. companies locating there. In fact, despite the impact of the pandemic, Bloomberg reported that the Irish economy was growing at a quicker rate than the rest of the EU in the last quarter of 2022.
Besides growing their markets, Arizona-based companies in Ireland are using their overseas operations as an opportunity to be closer to existing European customers and join a collaborative environment well populated with many of the world’s leading technology companies. This is because a key factor of doing business in Ireland is close partnerships for R&D, training and other elements between companies – many of them American – and Ireland’s government, research and academic spheres. Another aspect of this for Arizona-based firms is the availability of funding from both Irish institutions and the EU itself for a variety of R&D-focused programs.
In Business Magazine: Does the State of Arizona also benefit from having companies with locations in Ireland?
Houlihan: Ireland’s efforts to attract foreign firms to its shores creates in essence a two-way street where all parties have advantages. Arizona companies have the ability to grow with unrestricted access in the European market. This in turn benefits the corporate HQ in Arizona, providing the company with these opportunities for market expansion. And it obviously benefits Ireland’s growing economy.
In Business Magazine: Talk about what some of the Arizona companies who have opened offices in Ireland are doing over there.
Houlihan: Scottsdale-based Transact, an IT solutions and services provider, opened an office in Dublin in 2021. Many of the company’s customers such as Amazon Web Services already have offices in Ireland so Transact’s new operation is a key part of its growth strategy. Their core offerings in Ireland are cloud services, digital workplace solutions and IT infrastructure and services.
Meanwhile, engineering services provider MSR-FSR, headquartered in Chandler, also supports many large tech companies that have Irish locations from its operation in County Kildare. The company provides technical support services to the aerospace, life science, renewable energy and semiconductor industries.
Onsemi of Phoenix established a design center in 2008 in Limerick and opened a second design center in Cork when it acquired SensL Technologies. onsemi makes intelligent power and sensing technologies and is consistently in the top 20 semiconductor companies in the world based on sales revenues.
Another Arizona semiconductor firm, Microchip Technology of Chandler, invested $20 million to create a new development center based in Cork to focus on a range of products including ICs, power management devices and applications and software development for various markets. Microchip also has facilities in Dublin and Ennis, both of which increase the company’s ability to deliver superior products and provide timely response to customers.
Scottsdale-based Standard Aero is one of the aerospace industry’s largest maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) providers. It has an office in Cork and expanded its operation after acquiring an Ireland-based provider of component repair and manufacturing processes. This gives StandardAero nearly 70,000 square feet of MRO operations, more than 100 employees and an installed base of customers that includes Siemens, GE and Rolls-Royce.
In Business Magazine: Looking back into history, what are the historic ties between Ireland and Arizona?
Houlihan: The Great Famine that took place in Ireland from 1845 to 1852 spurred a major exodus with many immigrants ending up in Western states to seek their fortunes in the gold rush as well as mining other elements. By 1864, nearly 25% of the non-native male population in Arizona were prospectors and Irish immigrants could be found across Arizona, particularly in boom towns like Tombstone and Globe.
Today, the Irish population of Arizona is 8.45%. The longtime influence of the Irish in Arizona is most notable in the McClelland Library, which has the biggest repository of materials on the Irish in the Southwest and plans on specializing in the Irish west of the Mississippi.