A new report commissioned by Vodafone Ireland has said that a digital hub in every county could create thousands of jobs and generate €312m.
Following on from the launch of a number of regional digital hubs in Ireland such as at Ludgate in Skibbereen and Creative Spark in Dundalk, a report authored by economist Jim Power has found reason to push for even more sites.
The report, commissioned by Vodafone Ireland, was undertaken to assess how flexible or remote working from the home or a digital hub could benefit rural communities. If a digital hub was established in every county in Ireland, it said, then €52m could be generated for the State, with €1.56m in commercial rates.
Overall, a total of €312m would be contributed to the economy through the income multiplier effect that seeks to capture how many times a given euro spent in an economy ‘turns over’ or results in other transactions.
‘This will benefit local economies, the environment and the wellbeing of employees and business owners’
– JIM POWER
Such a number of digital hubs could lead to the creation of more than 1,000 new businesses, it added, in addition to creating 5,200 direct jobs and 3,640 indirect jobs in the local communities surrounding the hubs.
Alongside alleviating urban migration and slower regional economic growth, the study suggests that the widespread adoption of smart working would result in a significant reduction in congestion and commute times, ease pressure on housing in cities, provide greater availability of school places and generate more employment for young graduates locally.
‘It is an unambiguous win-win situation’
The calculations were based on the assumption that each of these county hubs would have 200 employees with an average salary of €50,000.
“In a world where issues such as climate change, congestion, more balanced regional economic growth and development, and quality of life are becoming increasingly important and topical, the contribution that remote working will make to addressing these problems is very significant,” Power said.
“With proper connectivity, there is no reason why remote working cannot grow in significance. This will benefit local economies, the environment and the wellbeing of employees and business owners. It is an unambiguous win-win situation.”
Vodafone Ireland’s director of enterprise, Regina Moran, added: “It also provides proof of concept that smart working and digital hubs can act as a stimulus to addressing the urban and rural socio-economic challenges that exist in Ireland. Gigabit connectivity is fundamental to achieving that.”