When Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd’s Knoxville based company, Radio Systems Corporation, announced in 2012 that it would be locating its European headquarters in Dundalk, Ireland, press reports at the time indicated that the government of Ireland would be providing financial incentives to the company as part of the deal.
In a September 25, 2012 press release, Boyd’s company acknowledged and expressed appreciation for the assistance provided by the government of Ireland:
Expanding global pet product expert and manufacturer Radio Systems Corporation, has today announced the opening of a new European head office in Dundalk, Ireland following comprehensive market research and evaluation. The opening opening of the new head office will result in the creation of 56 new jobs over the next three years. The investment is supported by the Irish Government with the aid of IDA Ireland.
From January 1, 2013 Radio Systems PetSafe Europe Ltd will be fully operational and will base its European multilingual customer services centre, finance, order management, supply chain and human resources departments in Dundalk. Of the 56 jobs being created over the next three years 25 will be hired by the end of December.
“As our business continues to grow internationally, Radio Systems Corporation plans to make Ireland the centre of its European expansion, mirroring our structure in the USA,” Boyd said in that 2012 press release.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Irish Government and IDA Ireland for their assistance in the establishment of this operation and I look forward to the growth of our business in Ireland and internationally,” Boyd added.
At the time of the 2012 announcement, the Irish Times also reported that Radio Systems’ agreement to locate its European headquarters in Dundalk was an “investment [is] supported by the Irish Government with the aid of IDA Ireland.”
Neither Ireland’s Department of Business and Innovation (BEI), IDAIreland, nor Radio Systems Corporation would confirm to The Tennessee Star the full amount of financial assistance provided to Radio Systems Corporation.
Financial assistance to American companies locating in Ireland can come in many forms, ranging from tax haven benefits that American corporations use to transfer taxable income earned elsewhere to low tax rate Ireland, to outright cash contributions, to various other financial instruments, including lines of credit and other forms of debt.
Ireland’s Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (BEI) has confirmed to The Tennessee Star that Boyd’s company, Radio Systems Corporation, is a client of IDAIreland. IDAIreland is no longer a fixed department within the Irish government after legislation allowed it to morph into “an autonomous state-sponsored body” responsible for economic development. It is comparable in many ways to Tennessee’s Department of Economic & Community Development (ECD) but it remains unclear to what degree IDAIreland is accountable to public inquiries.
IDAIreland chose not to provide any of the information requested by The Tennessee Star about the details of the assistance provided to Boyd’s company as it established operations in Dundalk.
The Irish government’s BEI, however, confirmed that Boyd’s company established its European headquarters in Dundalk, County Louth, and was “approved grant assistance by IDA, but to date has not drawn down any of the grants approved.”
It’s not clear whether the government’s pledge of financial assistance can be collateralized by Radio Systems Corporation for further expansion either in Ireland or in other locations.
In an emailed statement BEI told The Star that Boyd’s company office in Dundalk currently employs between 20 and 30 people. That number falls well short of the 56 jobs promised by 2016 when the deal was originally announced in 2012. It is not unusual for companies that receive financial incentive packages from governments, either in the United States or elsewhere, to fall short in delivering the number of jobs promised at the beginning of the deal.
Dundalk is one of the cities targeted by the government for concentrated development under a National Spatial Strategy plan.
The Dundalk Chamber of Commerce describes the city as “one of the largest urban centres in Ireland and primed to become Ireland’s first new city of the 21st Century” with a population within a 30 mile radius of slightly over 400,000. That’s about twice the size of Boyd’s hometown of Knoxville, but smaller than Nashville.
BEI said it welcomed the decision by Radio Systems Corporation to locate in Dundalk:
The decision to set up in Dundalk was welcomed by this Department. Dundalk as a town has been transformed in recent years by the work of the Government and the IDA in securing new projects for the town. This Department [BEI] and the IDA actively encourage companies to invest in regional locations and are targeting a 30-40% increase in investment outside of Dublin by 2019. The Government is well on its way to achieving this target. The town is now a hub for a range of sectors. The numbers employed by the foreign companies here have risen from 1,300 in 2010 to close to 4,000 currently. Companies like National Pen, PayPal, Xerox, Wasdell and Prometric have set up in the town and recently WuXi Biologics announced a €300 million investment in the town.
The Tennessee Star asked the Boyd campaign about his company’s decision to locate in Ireland, specifically, why the company chose to locate its European headquarters in Dundalk, why the planned staffing of the Dundalk office has not been accomplished, and why did the company feel compelled to ship these jobs out of Tennessee instead of establishing this part of the company’s operation in the state?
No responses have been received.