Coming home: How nations are luring expats back

An interesting topic at BBC

As travellers arrive at Dublin Airport’s Terminal 2, they’re greeted by the voice of former US president John F Kennedy, an Irish-American, whose speech about the enduring links between Ireland and its diaspora sounds out over loudspeakers.

It’s inspiring for certain, and the audio is meant to call to mind a love of Ireland before the point of playing it is revealed.

At the close, travellers — many of whom are either starting or ending a business trip — are greeted at the foot of the escalators between customs and the departure gates by professionally-dressed people armed with pamphlets and clipboards.

At the close of Kennedy’s speech, the audio continues and asks listeners if they know of any businesses looking to set-up shop in Europe. The awaiting greeters are there at just that moment to take down information from travellers who can connect them with companies who might be a good target. The aim: to encourage anyone expanding overseas to pick Ireland for their operations.

Why would anyone readily give out the name of a professional contact? Simple. For every sustainable job created as a result of the introduction the tipster provides he or she is rewarded 1,500 euro ($2,076), up to 100 jobs created.

This welcoming committee is one arm of an extensive, around-the-world awareness campaign targeting people with Irish heritage that ConnectIreland, a privately funded, government-supported job stimulation and creation program, is carrying out.

It urges business travellers to become “connectors” and pass along their tips to the ConnectIreland team, which works with the government’s Irish Development Agency. The team follows up in a bid to get the target firm to open operations on the Emerald Isle.

ConnectIreland’s tagline is “harnessing our diaspora,” and the programme targets the estimated 70 million Irish nationals scattered around the globe as the “eyes and ears” of Ireland. The aim is job creation and — the big picture — economic recovery in a country that experienced a 14% drop in GDP and an unemployment rate that hit 15% following the 2008 recession.

“It looks to build on what the Irish are naturally good at, which is connecting, talking and getting to know people and use that for the good of Ireland,” said Michael McLoughlin, chief executive officer of ConnectIreland.

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