The Irish Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Mary Coughlan commenced a week-long intensive trade and foreign direct investment mission to the West Coast of the U.S. on Monday.

The purpose of the visit is to target American companies in the financial and information and communication technologies (ICT) service sectors for job creation and investement in Ireland. Coughlan, who is also the Deputy Irish Prime Minister, will visit San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and Portland.

Said Coughlan prior to her trip, “Foreign direct investment from the United States will continue to play a key role in creating new jobs in Ireland over the coming years.”

Ireland is currently home to 464 U.S. companies. These companies employ over 94,000 people.

“The contribution made by companies from the West Coast cannot be underestimated, particularly in the ICT sector. Our continued funding commitment to research, development and innovation activities is a key pull factor that ensures they establish and maintain operations in Ireland as their preferred strategic location for Europe and the EMEA region,” said Coughlan.

Last week’s emergency Irish budget included €500 million plus for capital investment in enterprise. This funding is available to companies both at home and abroad that are working to create and maintain jobs in Ireland. A significant portion of the funding is leveraged to attract overseas companies into Ireland to create jobs.

“By putting this level of resources in place last week, the government prioritized investment in the most productive sectors of our economy and has invested in the creation of jobs by cementing the foundation for export led recovery and growth,” said Coughlan.

She said she would be talking up Irleand and investement opportuities to the U.S. during her week long visit.

 “The message I will bring to U.S. boardrooms this week is that Ireland is open for business, open for investment and open for job creation. This government, through IDA Ireland, is committed to building on our already strong and productive relationships with companies who have established partnerships with Ireland and to creating new investment opportunities with potential investors,” she said.

 “With the youngest population in Europe - over 40 percent under the age of 25 - and an educational system ranked fifth in the world in the way it meets the needs of a competitive economy, Ireland's unique workforce is a further key pull factor for US companies. In addition, Ireland's low corporate tax rate and flexible work practices remain a bedrock for attracting foreign direct investment.”

During her visit to the West Coast, Coughlan will also present the Irish Technology Leaders Silicon Valley Awards 2009 at a function in Stanford University.

On completion of her visit to the West Coast, she will travel to Washington, D.C. for a series of bi-lateral and political meetings with key members of the Obama administration and Congress.