New Regional Enterprise Plan for the Midlands
Published: 6th February 2019
New plan is first of nine Regional Enterprise Plans to be launched by Minister Humphreys to drive enterprise growth in the regions
The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys TD, today launched the first of nine new Regional Enterprise Plans to drive job creation and support enterprise growth in the regions. She was joined at the launch event in Mountmellick by Minister for Communications Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton TD, and Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD.
The Regional Enterprise Plan for the Midlands identifies seven Strategic Objectives that build on the region’s strengths and address vulnerabilities that range from leveraging big data opportunities through the iLOFAR telescope at Birr, to ensuring that the Midlands is well positioned to address the challenges and new business opportunities presented by decarbonisation of the economy.
Speaking at the Mountmellick Development Association, Co. Laois, which was a recent successful applicant under her Department’s Regional Enterprise Development Fund, the Minister said:
“The collaboration in evidence here in Mountmellick is a great example of what these new Regional Enterprise Plans are fundamentally about. The Regional Enterprise Plan for the Midlands 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.”
“I am pleased to note that jobs growth has been strong in all regions, including the Midlands. There are 19,100 more people at work in the Midlands today than at the beginning of 2015, when the Government first launched regional jobs plans, and the unemployment rate has reduced from almost 15 percent down to just over 7 percent.”
The Minister added:
“It is clear that there are new challenges emerging for enterprises in the external environment, and here in the Midlands, the regional economy will undergo some adjustment as it makes the transition to a low carbon reality. 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 €1billion 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 Midlands Regional Enterprise Steering Committee is ideally placed to come up with innovative, collaborative projects of scale which can deliver real economic benefits for this region.”
Strengthening our regional enterprises is particularly important in the context of Brexit.
“Over the coming weeks, my Department will continue to highlight the key issues that businesses need to be aware of in the run up to Brexit, and the Government supports that are available to them to mitigate its impacts”, the Minister said.
At a separate event today, the Minister also announced the creation of 300 jobs by the Supermac’s and SÓ Hotels Groups, owned by Pat and Una McDonagh. 100 jobs will be created through the redevelopment and refurbishment of the Athlone Springs Hotel, the Castle Oaks House Hotel, Limerick and the Killeshin Hotel, Portlaoise, and a further 200 jobs will be created in 3 new Supermac’s outlets in Wexford, Waterford and Kinnegad.
The Minister added:
“This significant jobs announcement today by Supermac’s and the SÓ Hotels Groups is a great example of what our local indigenous businesses can achieve when the right conditions are in place. Here in the Midlands, we can and must continue to build on this success through the new Regional Enterprise Plan.”
The new Plans complement and add value to the ongoing work of the Enterprise Agencies, LEOs, Regional Skills Fora, and other bodies involved in supporting enterprise development in the regional setting. The development of the Plans was overseen by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, working with regional stakeholders. Minister Humphreys will launch all nine regional plans over the coming weeks.
Minister Humphreys added:
“I want to welcome Dr. Anne Cusack, MD of Critical Healthcare who has recently assumed the role of Chair of the Regional Enterprise Plan Steering Committee for the Midlands and who will oversee the implementation of the new Plan.
Dr. Anne Cusack, Chair, Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan said:
'The launch of the Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan to 2020 is the culmination of public and private sector stakeholders coming together to ensure the Midland Region is supported, funded and championed in its need to build resilience, innovation and employment in these challenging times.
“The plan is focussed on the significant opportunities within the region which along with the dynamic collaboration of the regional enterprise agencies and the Steering Committee, will ensure the best outcomes of the strategic objectives are assured.’
Minister Flanagan said:
“This is a great day for Laois and the Midlands with the announcement of new jobs at the SÓ Hotels Group and Supermac’s. It is a reminder that our Irish home-grown companies are making a massive contribution to securing livelihoods in communities up and down the country.
“With the Midlands as the highest performing region in terms of FDI employment growth last year – up by 14 percent, this high performance and today’s announcement clearly shows that the Midlands is a very attractive region for doing business. We can only achieve more with the implementation of this new Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan”.
“I’m delighted that the new Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan is being launched here in my home town of Mountmellick in County Laois. I want to commend the work undertaken here by the Mountmellick Development Association who were recently awarded over €218,000 under the Regional Enterprise Development Fund to develop the Beale Centre for Business Excellence here in Mountmellick. This new development will support entrepreneurship and job creation in this area and will build on the excellent collaborative spirit that has resulted in the impressive facilities that have been delivered by the MDA and its partners to date.”
Minister Bruton said:
“We have seen the success of the Regional Action Plans for Jobs and the results it had for the Midlands. Thankfully, we are in a different position now than we were when those plans were implemented and a new suite of measures is now being put in place to make sure we continue to support our regions.
“I am currently developing an all of government plan to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change. Being a leader means acting now and seizing the enterprise opportunities in a low carbon economy. Being a follower means the final costs of adjustment are much higher and opportunities much lower or completely lost.
“I am delighted that Portlaoise has been allocated over €1million under the Urban Development Fund as part of an exciting pilot project to become Ireland’s first Low Carbon Town Centre and I want to see more projects like that replicated across the country.
“I am also acutely aware of the need to support local communities in this transition and this is at the heart of the Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan.”
Minister Humphreys also travelled to Birr, Co. Offaly to meet with the project team and stakeholders involved in the development of a new Innovation & Design Centre in the town at Birr Technology Centre, which has recently been awarded more than €450,000 under the Regional Enterprise Development Fund. The project will provide a unique opportunity for enterprise and the academic research and education community to access big data in real time through the iLOFAR telescope at Birr Castle. Services will include: hot desk facilities and office space, IT training facilities and training, industry focused events, and industry-led research projects (undergraduate and post-graduate).