There has been a lot of talk about billions in the public political space in recent times and some of it was not too great, concerning the cost overrun on the new children’s hospital.
Most other times, when we talk about billions, it is large private companies involved. (To aid your own calculations, one billion represented €214 for each of the State’s citizens in the 2016 Census, or €640 odd per household).
One such large company is Intel Corporation, which has a large Irish subsidiary, Intel Ireland, the bulk of whose business is done in Leixlip, county Kildare.
The good news is that Intel appears to on the verge of expanding again.
It has just applied to add to plans for which it received planning permission in 2017.
While most of us accept that the benefits of an Intel outweigh the cost, we should facilitate the brave souls who might argue otherwise with some thought on the matter.
I had some thoughts recently when reading about the Intel’s plan for its Israeli operation.
Israel’s finance minister, Moshe Kahlon, was quoted as saying that Intel will receive a grant of about $1 billion from the Israeli government for its latest investment plan to expand its chip manufacturing operations in the country.
The minister said he was informed by Intel that it would invest about $11 billion in a new factory.
Intel is already one of the biggest employers and exporters in Israel.
The grant cited above is in addition to a €170 million the company will get in return for a separate $5 billion expansion of its production operations in Israel.
The report said that grants were crucial for Israel to compete with for investment with countries such as Ireland.
The expansion is expected to add 1,000 new employees to Intel’s workforce of nearly 13,000 in Israel, the spokesman said.
It made me wonder, what the Irish government is offering them?
As it is, Intel requires a lot of water — around 40% of the Kildare commercial and residential total — and other assets, for its chip operation.
It also creates economic pressure in areas such as road traffic and transport to the north Kildare area.
What effect does the company’s presence have on house prices, possibly putting them out of the reach of many earners here, and even its own staff in north Kildare?
Such factors have become crucial in the housing market.
Some years ago, a citizen told me that a relative of theirs was in discussion with representatives of a large (unnamed) company to rent a house in the north Kildare area.
The owner would have been was very happy with €1,300 a month, which was higher then than it is today, and was about the going rate for the property at the time.
The company rep offered €1,600 and this was not refused.
But the extra €300 would have ruled out an opportunity for a not-so-well- financed couple.
Plans for pool
With billions being spent on the potential Intel plant, some might have hoped that the presence of the company would have boosted the case for the public swimming pool for north to be placed at Leixlip Amenities Centre.
The centre lies across the road from the Intel plant, whose large employee base, would be, surely, a very welcome customer base for the pool, quite apart from the extra populations in Leixlip and Celbridge alone, who would use the pool.
The cost of the pool has been put at €10 million which relatively little compared to the billions that Intel will spend on its expansion.