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How the West wins

The Western Development Commission, however, argues further that the region has it all. That was the message that the agency's Lisa McAllister and Joanne Grehan brought to Philadelphia and New York recently.

The West in this context means the five Connacht counties -- Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo -- together with Clare and Donegal. "Costs are cheaper, labor is cheaper and it's a very competitive location for business," said McAllister, the WDC's chief executive officer.

If you take into account the general advantages of having a base in Ireland -- its membership of the European Union, the fact that English is the main language of commerce and its competitive corporate tax rates -- then, the WDC's officials argued, the West offers the best value for money for companies wishing to expand beyond the United States. Its high-skilled economy is aided, too, by the 14 colleges and universities in the region.

The West has developed certain reputation in the area of the medical device sector. But it is also become a center for information and communication technologies as well as the audio-visual industry.

The region is adaptable with regard to languages, too. "The call center activity is testament to that," McAllister said.

"One of our objectives is to tell people that the West is a great place to live, work and do business in," said Grehan, the regional executive director.

The agency, which has a staff of 14 at offices in Ballaghderreen, Co. Roscommon, works from the assumption that moving to its region can be as much a personal decision as a business one.

"We're very realistic. It's a big decision to move to a new location," she added. "We work hard to engage people at their level."

Lower property prices is one reason why people do go the region that stretches from the Errigal Mountain to the Cliffs of Moher and from the Atlantic Ocean to the River Shannon. The average 3-bedroom semi-detached home in County Roscommon is, at

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