Ireland’s prime minister, John Bruton, made well-publicized visits to Coca-Cola and UPS, which already have operations in his country,  during his March visit to Atlanta.  Less well known was his courtesy call to Robert A. Yellowlees,  CEO of National Data Corp. (NDC), the information systems and services provider for the healthcare and payment systems markets.

NDC spokesman Dave Scott confirmed that Mr. Bruton visited with Mr. Yellowlees, but down-played the immediate significance of the meeting.  “A lot of countries offer incentive programs to encourage investment in their regions,” he told GlobalFax.

NDC’s Global Payment Systems has a facility outside of London which services U.K. business.  But for the moment, that’s the only overseas presence of the Atlanta-based company with more than $325 million in annual sales.

In view of its extensive processing services, it is not surprising that NDC might be considering establishing some sort of presence in Ireland, which is experiencing a 7% annual growth rate with an inflation rate of less than 2%.

U.S. corporations are flocking to Ireland as a gateway to Europe with local companies such as UPS and Equifax already there.  Sixty percent of all business application software and 40% of all personal computer package software sold in Europe is made in Ireland.

Ireland qualifies for more than $3 billion a year in EU subsidies, and its growth rate is currently three times that of Britain’s.

The country is being equipped with state-of-the art industrial, transportation and communications equipment. It is not encumbered with outdated manufacturing facilities and seems to be leapfrogging the industrial age into a more technological one.