The number of people now working in construction in the Cork region stood at 10,500 in 2012, according to the Construction Industry Federation (CIF). This represented a drop of 70% from peak construction employment in the area of 35,000 in 2007. The CIF revealed the figures at their Cork Branch AGM which took place in Maryborough House Hotel on Monday 18th February. The CIF also revealed that the value of construction activity in Cork fell to €850 million in 2012, a drop of €3.65 billion since the peak of construction activity in 2006. This represents a decline of 81% in the size of the industry in Cork. In housing, more than one in eight (14%) of the houses built in Ireland last year were in Cork, with 1,213 houses completed in the region from a total of 8,488 nationally. Of those completed 1,140 were private houses and 73 were local authority/ voluntary housing. Work also started on 418 new housing units in Cork during 2012, a drop of 61 units from 2011 when 479 units were commenced. However in Cork City the number of new starts was almost doubled, with work starting on 29 new units compared to 15 in 2011. Speaking about the year ahead for the construction industry in Cork, CIF President Philip Crampton said that there were cautions reasons for optimism. “The CIF is cautiously optimistic about the year ahead, both in terms of the national industry and the local activity in Cork. We believe that the decline in overall activity should be at the bottom of the curve and we will start to see more demand for construction work in the next 18 months. On a national level there are a lot more reasons to be positive about the outlook for the sector than this time a year ago. “The continuing success of the IDA in attracting foreign direct investment has created a regular stream of construction activity, Irish Water will be rolling out their scheme in the coming 12 months, NAMA is providing working capital funding for completion of construction work on various projects, the promissory note deal may provide some leeway for the Government to increase its capital spending while construction work should start beginning on the stimulus plan later in the year and the banks have committed to providing increased levels of mortgage finance during 2013. All of these will help construction activity in this country. “Of course it remains to be seen how quickly that will be felt around the country, however Cork should be one of the first areas of the country to feel the impact if there is any increase in activity. More populous, urban areas tend to attract a larger proportion of work than more rural parts of the country and Cork City stands an advantage in that respect. We have already started to see an increase in housing activity in Cork City and the demand for housing seems to be picking up in City and suburban areas. “Locally there are some private projects that are either commencing or continuing in 2013 in Cork. These include a warehousing and manufacturing expansion for Irish Distillers in Midleton and Dungourney. There is the ongoing construction of the Eli Lilly manufacturing facility in Dunderrow and the expansion of the Apple facility in Hollyhill. “We also expect to see work begin on a new pharmaceutical plant for Sangart in Carrigtwohill, Dairygold will be expanding their milk processing facilities in Mallow and we are anticipating an investment in the BioMarin facility in Shanbally. “These are all positive signs and reasons to be optimistic, but it will be another tight year for the industry. If all the expected areas of national activity come to fruition our industry will soon start to feel the impact in Cork and on a national basis,” Mr. Crampton concluded.