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South-West enterprise plan promises jobs boost

Wednesday, 6th March, 2019 4:32pm

A new plan to help grow enterprise and create jobs in Cork was launched in Skibbereen recently.

A new regional enterprise plan for the South-West region - which comprises Cork and Kerry – was launched by the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys at the Ludgate Hub last Friday.

The plan was one of nine regional plans currently being launched.

The development of the South-West plan was collaborative. While it was overseen by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, stakeholders from the South-West region working through a regional stakeholder committee chaired by Dr Adrienne Harrington, Chief Executive, the Ludgate Hub ultimately created the plan.

The South-West plan identifies six strategic objectives, with actions to: build capability and resilience in the region’s enterprise base; develop the region’s enterprise hubs; leverage opportunities through business clustering and internationalisation; increase the capacity of the tourism sector; support growth in the region’s marine and maritime sector; and ensure the availability of skills and talent to underpin growth potential.

Speaking at the Ludgate Hub in Skibbereen, which was recently approved almost €2 million in funding under her Department’s Regional Enterprise Development Fund, Minister Humphreys said: “The collaboration in evidence here at the Ludgate Hub in Skibbereen is a superb example of what these new regional enterprise plans are fundamentally about. The plan for the South-West sets out a number of key strategic areas where regional stakeholders working together will provide a basis for future enterprise development and job creation that is sustainable in the longer term.

“I am pleased to note that jobs growth has been strong in all regions, including the South-West. There are 29,800 more people at work today in counties Cork and Kerry than at the beginning of 2015, when the Government first launched regional jobs plans, and the unemployment rate has almost halved, reducing from 10.5 per cent down to 5.3 per cent today.

“Notwithstanding this success, it is clear that there are new challenges emerging for enterprises in the external environment. Through this Regional Enterprise Plan, the region can adopt a leadership position through driving initiatives from the ground-up.

“As part of Project Ireland 2040, the Government has introduced a range of new funding streams such as the €1 billion Rural Regeneration Fund, the €2 billion Urban Development Fund, the €500 million Climate Action Fund and the €500m Disruptive Technologies Fund. These are in addition to other existing schemes such as my Department’s Regional Enterprise Development Fund and the Town and Village Renewal Scheme.

“Given the wide range of stakeholders involved, the Regional Enterprise Steering Committee for the South-West is ideally placed to come up with innovative, collaborative projects of scale which can deliver real economic benefits for this region.”

The nine new regional enterprise plans are the result of an extensive refresh of the original Regional Action Plans for Jobs which ran from 2015 to 2017/8. The new plans complement the ongoing work of the enterprise agencies, LEOs, regional skills fora, and other bodies involved in supporting regional enterprise development.

Chief Executive of Enterprise Ireland, Ms Julie Sinnamon said: “Regional enterprise is a critical component of a robust economy and Enterprise Ireland is committed to supporting regionally-based businesses to build scale and expand reach. Public and private partnerships like Ludgate convert regional plans into actions.”

The Chair of the South-West Regional Steering Committee, Dr Adrienne Harrington, Chief Executive, the Ludgate Hub said: “The plan is the result of a collaborative effort on behalf of the members of the Steering Committee, and I’d like to thank them again for their work in bringing this together.

“Our new plan reflects our vision for the region, building on and strengthening the culture of enterprise development in the South-West that is key to ensuring vibrant and sustainable communities, and complements the work being undertaken across the region by the local authorities and the enterprise agencies. We offer a wonderful place to live, work and visit, of which we are justifiably proud, and I hope that this plan will play its part in enhancing the region over the coming years.”

While in Skibbereen, the Minister also announced the recipients of the first call of the Government’s new Online Retail Scheme.

11 retailers were awarded funding as part of the new €1.25m fund, which is targeted at online retailers to strengthen their online offering to enable them to reach a wider customer base.

The scheme recipients were announced by the Minister at CH Marine, a marine supply store based in Skibbereen, one of the 11 successful recipients under the fund.

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