Government unveils major new enterprise plan for the mid-west

20 Feb 2019247 Views

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Doonagore Castle, Co Clare. Image: © Lukasz Pajor/Stock.adobe.com

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A new Regional Enterprise Plan for the mid-west of Ireland aims to make the area a major smart technology hub.

The Irish Government has today (20 February) launched a Regional Enterprise Plan (REP) for the mid-west, in an effort to foster enterprise growth and job creation in the area. The REP is one of several being launched in the coming weeks, while the first has already kicked off in the mid-east region of the country.

Minister Heather Humphreys, TD, was joined at an event in Lisheen, Co Tipperary, by Minister Pat Breen, TD; Minister Michael Ring, TD; and Minister Patrick O’Donovan, TD.

Working together to support regional growth

Speaking at the location for the development of a National Bioeconomy Innovation and Piloting Facility in Lisheen, Humphreys said: “The collaboration in evidence here at Lisheen is a great example of what these new Regional Enterprise Plans are fundamentally about.

“The plan for the mid-west that I am launching today 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.”

The Mid-West REP incorporates counties Tipperary, Limerick and Clare and was overseen by Humphreys’ department, working with stakeholders from the region through a committee chaired by Barry O’Sullivan, global manufacturing platform lead at Johnson & Johnson Vision Care.

Five aims

The strategy itself outlines five key objectives:

  • making the mid-west Ireland’s leading smart city hub
  • achieving progress towards a low-carbon economy
  • developing workforce skills and talent
  • boosting the area’s capacity for economic growth
  • creating a coordinated messaging brand for consistent communication

Humphreys praised the strong jobs growth in the region, but added that there are emerging challenges that must be mitigated with steps such as the ones outlined in the REP.

She said: “As part of Project Ireland 2040, the Government has introduced a range of new funding streams such as the €1bn Rural Regeneration Fund, the €2bn Urban Development Fund, the €500m 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 Mid-West is ideally placed to come up with innovative, collaborative projects of scale which can deliver real economic benefits for this region.”

Humphreys also stressed that regional enterprise strength is vital in the context of Brexit. “It is crucial that they [regional businesses] check their supply chains for vulnerabilities to Brexit impacts.”

The mid-west region has unique assets

O’Sullivan said: “Our new Mid-West Regional Enterprise Plan is focused on working toward our vision for the mid-west region to be Ireland’s leading ‘Inclusive Smart City Region’, utilising our unique asset base, converting emerging opportunities to jobs and continually upskilling people, to ensure both enterprise and citizens have equal access to opportunities for growth.”

Minister Ring added: “Regional and rural job creation is at the core of this Government’s mission, and through initiatives such as these Regional Enterprise Plans, the Regional Enterprise Development Fund, together with the €315m in funding that my Department of Community and Rural Development is currently rolling out over the next four years for rural regeneration and development under Project Ireland 2040, the future of rural and regional Ireland, including in this region, can be a lot brighter.”

Ellen Tannam is a writer covering all manner of business and tech subjects

editorial@siliconrepublic.com