President’s Blog December 2, 2019 – Collaboration

Atlantic Economic Corridor Region Map

Hello Members – Collaboration is a word repeatedly used by the Sligo Chamber Team.  Collaboration with our partners in the public and private sector with the common goals to deliver balanced regional growth.  To help realise a vision of a Sligo at the heart of a fully sustainable region where our children can live, work and thrive in a safe environment, an environment that is community led and offers real quality of life.  Two partners that Sligo Chamber collaborates closely with are the Western Development Commission and the Atlantic Economic Corridor.

The Atlantic Economic Corridor (AEC) Enterprise Hubs Project to promote remote working was launched recently in the Sligo Park Hotel.  Events Manager, Mary Harty, attended the launch on behalf of the Chamber Team.  The European Hubs Project is being co-ordinated by the Western Development Commission (WDC).  Allan Mulrooney, well known to Chamber member firms through his former role with the IDA in Sligo is now Head of Communications and AEC Project Development at the Western Development Commission.  The purpose of the Enterprise Hubs project is to establish a network among the already existing 101 hubs in the region leading to increased hub occupancy, improved knowledge transfer and sharing of ideas, all to drive business development in communities across the region. The launch was also used as a platform to reinforce the brand of the Atlantic Economic Corridor, directly posing the question – “What is the Atlantic Economic Corridor (AEC)?”

The AEC is the term applied to a “linear” region along the Western seaboard stretching from Kerry to Donegal.  The aim is to facilitate delivery of the National Development Plan by promoting collaboration within the AEC that maximises its assets, attracts investment and creates jobs and prosperity in the region.  By building a connected, sustainable region of scale along the Atlantic coast, the AEC will drive regional development and deliver balanced regional growth.  Recognise the theme?  A theme in common with the Sligo Chamber vision.  Hence the reason Sligo Chamber works closely and in collaboration, (that word again,) with the Atlantic Economic Corridor and the Western Development Commission.

The next European Union long-term budget will span the years 2021 – 2027.  Also called the Multiannual Financial Framework, this is a long-term spending plan allowing the EU plan and invest in projects across every EU country.  At EU level, Ireland is divided into three regions.  Sligo is part of the Northern & Western Region.  For the next EU funding programme period (2021 – 2027), the Northern & Western Region has been classified as being a “Transition Region”.  In funding terms, this means that Northern & Western region qualifies for 55% EU co-financing funding.  This is in contrast with the other two regions in the country (Southern & Eastern and Midland) which qualify for only 40% funding, they, having the higher classification of “More Developed Regions”.

Sligo Chamber believes it is essential that the Northern & Western Region maximises the opportunity the 55% EU co-financing funding rate offers over the course of the 2021 – 2027 budget term.  The Chamber therefore has taken the decision to become more informed on the EU funding mechanisms.  Sligo Chamber Skillnet Manager, Geraldine Courtenay, has enrolled in the Northern & Western Regional Assembly – EU Studies Programme.  The purpose of the programme is to support Local Authorities, Education and Research Bodies together with Business Development Groups such as Sligo Chamber to obtain a better insight into European Affairs and understand the various funding mechanisms available.  The objective is to have a more effective network of skilled personnel in the Northern & Western Region capable of leading out in the preparation of EU funding applications.  Geraldine started the Programme last Friday with a workshop at Galway Technology Centre.  This week, the course will see Geraldine in Brussels for three days of learning and networking from Tuesday to Thursday.  The course concludes back In Galway in January with a closing workshop.  This is another example of how the Team at Sligo Chamber is leading out on behalf of the best interests of our member firms, on behalf of Sligo and on behalf of the overall Northern & Western Region.  Speaking with Geraldine today before leaving for Brussels, Geraldine says that she intends, on completion of the Programme, to make a presentation to the Sligo Chamber Industrial Group on the learning outcomes achieved.

On a completely separate theme, last Saturday myself and Events Manager, Mary, attended the launch of a new book, “Bláthanna” in Liber Book Shop in O’Connell Street.  A book celebrating flowers in Irish spaces, this is a remarkably creative and colourful collaborative production by two Sligo people, husband and wife, Ultan Devaney and Ruth Monahan.   Sligo features prominently in the book with sets of photographs taken at Mullaghmore, Carrowmore and Streedagh. 

Until next time.

Life is for Living – #Life is Sligo.

Conor McCarthy

President Sligo Chamber