Sligo Economic Forum

Sligo Economic Forum (SEF) was established in 2016 with a high-level strategic remit to support and boost the ability of Sligo’s economic partners to be the lead drivers in all matters of economic development for the county.

It consists of representatives from both private and public sectors, tasked with the responsibility of strategically planning and directing the economic vision for Sligo.

SEF acts as a primary driver in executing the outputs of the Atlantic Economic Corridor (AEC). Sligo’s AEC Officer provides quarterly updates to members allowing the forum to monitor progress, while also taking more specific responsibility in acting as the steering group for the implementation of actions outlined by the AEC Enterprise Subgroup.

SEF is currently finalising an Action Plan for Growth and Investment to further the economic, social and cultural development of the county. With stakeholder representation in both private and public enterprise, it is working to secure new investment in Sligo for infrastructure, overseas investment, business, education and community facilities. It exemplifies best practice in adopting a collaborative approach to economic development.

Boyle 2040

Roscommon County Council through its Town Centre Planning Unit worked extensively with the Boyle Town Team to develop a unique set of town centre rejuvenation plans (Boyle 2040) which were referenced in the Ireland 2040 National Development Planning Framework.

Boyle 2040 presents a framework for the comprehensive social and economic regeneration of the town core in keeping with the AEC aim of attracting investment, supporting job creation and improving the quality of life along the Corridor.

This significant town regeneration project will undertake a series of linked projects, including the refurbishment and conversion of the old Royal Hotel into an Enterprise Centre, exhibition space, information point and coffee dock, and the creation of a new riverside promenade, which will link the town centre to key tourism attractions.

This phase of the project will also include the development of a new Civic Space with acoustic shell, behind the existing hotel building and adjacent to the new riverside promenade.

AEC Collector App

One of the core objectives of the AEC Enterprise Working Group is to develop a practical approach to the re-purposing and development of property solutions for businesses in the Corridor.

To this end an audit of available enterprise spaces, including industrial properties, office spaces and sites for development, was conducted in the pilot towns of Ennis & Sligo.

Following on from the findings, and prior to the audit being rolled out in the other key towns along the corridor, the need for a standardised schema and database was acknowledged. On foot of this Peter Hynes, CE Mayo County Council and Chairman of the AEC Enterprise Working Group, took on the responsibility of developing and testing a template database and a collection app.

“Ultimately the result will be one standardised schema and methodology for collection of AEC data, which will feed into a ‘National’ dataset, to be used for the purpose of attracting economic development in the AEC Area”.

Under the guidance of Mary Wrafter, Mayo AEC Officer, the Collector App, utilising ArcGIS OnLine’s functionality along with the suite of mobile data collection apps on offer with this platform, was developed in-house and was rolled out to the AEC Officers in the nine AEC counties. The schemas developed were loosely based on the word documents supplied by the consultants, Shannon International Development Consultants who had previously carried out audits in the pilot towns of Ennis and Sligo. Following the successful development of the App, MCC also developed the AEC Available Enterprise Spaces Portal which is now being tested. This portal allows interested parties, worldwide, to search the AEC data base and map for available enterprise spaces by property type, category, size, county, town and all AEC area. The next phase will be the development of a dashboard.

To date, data has been collected on over 275 vacant enterprise spaces in the nine pilot towns with populations greater than 2,000. By the end of Q3, information will be collected on 30 towns in the region giving a comprehensive view of available industrial enterprise spaces for start-ups, growing companies or those wishing to relocate to the AEC region.

USEFE

Collaboration with neighboring counties is nothing new for Leitrim County Council. In 2013, Leitrim and its partners established the Upper Shannon Erne Future Economy project (USEFE).

It is a joint initiative between the Local Authorities of Cavan, Leitrim, Longford, the ESB, Bord Na Mona and fellow Atlantic Economic Corridor (AEC) members Roscommon County Council. USEFE, like the AEC, is about creating something greater than the sum of its parts.

By working together within the AEC framework, Leitrim hopes to contribute towards a positive impact on the economic development of the region.  USEFE, is about creating something greater than the sum of its parts. By working together within the AEC framework, we can create initiatives that will have a positive impact on the economic development of the region. USEFE has successfully secured funding under the Regional Enterprise Development Fund to develop a network of linked hubs across three counties.

The hubs will provide physical locations where entrepreneurs and enterprises can avail of office and meeting spaces with the latest technologies and fastest broadband available.

Invest In Kerry

With a base of 13 FDI companies employing 2,000 people, Kerry continues to be an attractive location in which to do business and develop enterprise.

The ‘Invest in Kerry’ brand developed in partnership with IDA Ireland provides information and advice for companies looking to invest in the county. Kerry’s outward looking approach and strong work life balance has proved to be attractive for many companies and the county is home to some internationally known names like Fexco, Dairymaster, Liebherr, Borg Warner and Kerry Group.

The continued expansion of many of our multinationals proves that large companies can grow from a rural base into the international arena. Work continues with strategic partners on the establishment of Kerry as a centre of excellence in financial technology (Fintech) and agricultural technology (Agritech) which represent strong employment potential for the county. Kerry is host to considerable business networks and economic infrastructure including a number of digital enterprise hubs. Examples of these include, Kerry SciTech, the Tom Crean Business Centre, RDI Hub, Killarney Technology Innovation Centre, Dingle Creativity & Innovation Hub, Sneem Digital Hub, Castleisland Carnegie, Agritech Centre of Excellence, as well as a number of private hubs.

Managed Design Solutions – An equilibrium of family and work

Pace of life and quality family time was an important factor for Julian Drapiewski and Jonathan Grimes when they decided to establish a digital design management consultancy firm in County Galway.

“Living in the West of Ireland is very affordable and it’s a good place to bring up children without having any negative effect on our work,” says Julian. “It’s refreshing to know you can operate a tech-based company while still reaping all the benefits of living and working in rural areas where you don’t have to worry about urban factors,” agrees Jonathan.

Managed Design Solutions, which specialises in Building Information Modelling (BIM) for the construction industry and wastewater sector, was set up by co-founders Julian and Jonathan in 2018 and is now based in the Ballinasloe Enterprise Centre, at the heart of the Atlantic Economic Corridor. “Ballinasloe is a great location for encouraging potential employees and reaching clients because it has access to the Dublin and Galway motorways and it’s on the train to Dublin,” says Julian.

Originally from Poland, Julian and his wife moved to Athenry, Co Galway in 2004. For Julian, Maya and their four young children, Galway is home and being able to work close to home, near to the Atlantic coast and without battling traffic, is his dream scenario. “Jonathan and I both want to be available to our families and as entrepreneurs we have lots of flexibility in our work, but it wouldn’t be possible to have the same lifestyle in Dublin.”

Jonathan, who lives in Glenamaddy, Co Galway with his fiancée and daughter, says: “The centre has provided me with a highly affordable base close to home without having to compromise in regard to facilities, IT set up or potential for attracting employees. It’s great to feel that you can be part of encouraging the development of what is traditionally seen as a rural part of the country.”

Nuns’ Island Masterplan

Galway City Council and NUI Galway are working together to prepare a masterplan for the Nuns’ Island area of Galway City.

The plan aims to create a strategy for a structured approach to regeneration of the former industrial area as a key pillar in the economic and innovative growth of Galway City and the wider Atlantic Economic Corridor (AEC) region. The area currently has a number of uses including residential, educational, commercial, civic and cultural as well as a number of disused buildings, many of which are in the ownership of NUI Galway, unused spaces and a valuable public realm, which includes a number of waterways. The masterplan will investigate the potential to optimise the use of this underutilised city centre space through the appropriate mix of redevelopment and public realm spaces. It will identify the opportunity for new spaces and open the waterways at the heart of Nuns’ Island with the potential to further enhance Galway’s reputation as a global landmark destination of quality. This process will result in a vision framework with options for regenerating the area. Community, educational, cultural, economic, start-up, environmental, residential and social uses are all under consideration in the master plan.

Audit of Ennis

The Audit of Ennis has been completed with 92 properties identified.

Data from the audit has been used to inform the working draft of the Ennis 2040 – An Economic and Spatial Strategy for Ennis Town and environs which will guide development to 2040 and will focus and agree on an economic future and spatial pattern for the town, and ensure a clear economic vision and framework to achieve this vision. Work is ongoing on the Audit of Shannon with 87 vacant properties identified to date.

Developing a key hub

Shannon is a key national and international centre of importance for employment, connectivity, international trade and foreign direct investment and is home to the largest aerospace and aviation cluster in Ireland, which currently consists of over 80 firms and is growing steadily.

With the development of the International Aviation Services Centre (IASC), continued expansion of services at Shannon International Airport, and the planned enhancements of the green infrastructure network and public realm improvements in the town, including the development of a Masterplan for the town of Shannon, there are significant opportunities for growth and to become a Centre of Economic Importance along the Atlantic Economic Corridor (AEC). Shannon Free Zone, the largest multi-sectoral business park outside of Dublin, is 60 years old this year and is the base for some of the world’s leading companies in ICT, engineering, medical devices, manufacturing and financial services sectors.

DigiWest Working Hubs in Mayo, Sligo, Roscommon and Donegal

The WDC will lead the Digiwest regional economic development project to develop digital working hubs in Stranorlar, Co Donegal, Tubbercurry, Co Sligo, Tulsk, Co Roscommon and Swinford, Co Mayo.

The funding is part of €62 million in funding for Rural Regeneration and Development projects across the country, and it aligns with the ongoing work along the Atlantic Economic Corridor, as set out in the National Planning Framework.

The Digiwest project is an excellent example of regional collaboration where four Local Authorities, working with the Western Development Commission and the Department of Rural and Community Development will be enabling and supporting communities to work in the digital economy. The collaboration will offer facilities and services that will meet community and business needs, to maintain and develop vibrant communities in the Western Region.