The IDA - often criticised for having a city bias - has announced it is to develop new buildings in Waterford and in Athlone.

It has awarded contracts to Walls Construction and Kilcawley Building and Civil Engineering for what the authority calls "an advanced property solution".

Both new buildings should be ready by November this year and it is thought the two projects will support 180 construction jobs.

IDA chief executive Barry O'Leary said that the availability of "high quality property solutions" is a key component in winning Foreign Direct Investment projects.

At a sod-turning earlier today he said: "These initiatives by IDA will address the current deficit of suitable property solutions and promote investment into regional locations. IDA's direct intervention to construct these buildings is due to the absence of private funding available to do so."

Athlone's new building will be located at the IDA Garrycastle Business & Technology Park on the Dublin Road. The Waterford building will be in the IDA Technology Park on the Cork Road.

In a statement, Property Industry Ireland - which is part of IBEC - said that since the property market collapsed a number of years ago, the supply of new commercial property has halted.

It said today's announcement that IDA is both funding and managing the construction of commercial properties is a sensible way to resolve shortages on a programmed and co-ordinated way.