President’s Blog – July 22, 2019 – West Coast Connected

Atlantic Economic Corridor Region Map

Hello Members –Last Wednesday saw Sligo Chamber submit a comprehensive policy document to the European Union in a response to the European Commission’s Public Consultation on Union Guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network known as TEN-T.  This submission, led by Sligo Chamber of Commerce and supported by Letterkenny, Galway and Shannon Chambers of Commerce provides an overview of the key concerns and priorities of communities along Ireland’s western seaboard.  The policy paper highlights the requirement for significant investment in transportation infrastructure in Europe’s more peripheral regions, such as Ireland’s west coast.  It also highlights how such investment would be in line with European policies which promote the development and integration of all European regions.  Specifically, the paper calls for the development of an efficient, safe and seamless quality transportation network along Ireland’s west coast from Letterkenny-Derry through Sligo, Galway, Limerick-Shannon and onto Cork.  The provision of such connectivity would facilitate balanced regional growth counteracting the growth of Dublin and the east allowing the west coast to be self-sustainable in meeting the demands of the additional 1 million people projected in the National Development Plan to be living in Ireland by the year 2040.

Thanks are due to the hard work over the last four weeks of the Steering Committee, past Presidents David Kiely and Trevor McDaid; Dr. Brian McCann of IT Sligo; Mary Harty and CEO Aidan Doyle, culminating in the production of this quality policy paper.  The quality of the paper was reflected in the following comments received by Sligo Chamber:-

  • “an outstanding summary of our position on infrastructure and how it relates to economic development and the future economic model that we promote”. – Atlantic Economic Corridor
  • “a really great paper, a great example of Chambers collaboration”. – Chambers Ireland

Realising from the Chamber’s visit to the European Commission in Brussels in February, the importance of MEPs in influencing policy at European level, Sligo Chamber is seeking to arrange a meeting with European Commission Vice President Mairead McGuinness MEP, to inform her of the policy paper and seek her support for improved development along the peripheral region of Ireland’s west coast.

Also on Wednesday, CEO Aidan together with Events Manager Mary Harty and Skillnet Manager Geraldine Courtenay attended the Sligo Food Trail presentation to the visiting Pride of Places judges for the Community Tourism Award 2019.  The Sligo Food Trail is an important part of the Sligo offering to visiting tourists.  Numbering over 70, the Sligo Food Trail members and producers take great pride in serving quality fresh healthy food sourced locally.  Traceability of food “from farm to fork” is a key for them in delivering an exceptional culinary experience to locals and visitors alike.  The Sligo Food Trail works collaboratively with Sligo County Council and Sligo Tourism as well as the Chamber in promoting their offering and in attracting tourists to the region.  The presentation to the judges was hosted in the Glasshouse and we wish the Food Trail every success in Pride of Place Awards ceremony which will take place in Kilkenny in November.

On Friday, CEO Aidan travelled to Carrick-on-Shannon to attend a meeting of the Steering Committee of the North West Regional Enterprise Plan.  The Enterprise Plan is aimed at boosting job creation in the region and seeks to support businesses to start-up succeed, expand and export.  This is another example of Sligo Chamber working collaboratively with our partners across the public and private sectors as part of our ongoing continued drive to attract new jobs into the region.  Key strategic objectives being targeted by working groups on the Enterprise Plan Steering Committee include eHubs, co-working, SME digitilisation and tourism.

Moving back to regular Chamber business, the week kicked off on Monday with the July monthly meeting of the Chamber Industrial Group.  Chairman David Kiely skillfully guided the group through the agenda with updates provided on progress under headings including infrastructure, housing, educational skills and attracting industry to Sligo.  One new item which may be of interest to members is educational skills where Sligo Chamber has been engaging with educational institutions with a view to delivering an International School Curriculum.  The aim would be to have a global campus in Sligo which would prepare children for a globalised world.  These exploratory discussions are in response to a need identified to the Industrial Group by multi-national companies operating in the region where senior staff members are required to move between countries as part of their career growth path within the organisations. 

On Tuesday morning at 8am we had our July monthly Council Meeting.  The Council meeting always follows the Industrial Group meeting as we find this to be the most efficient way of keeping Council fully informed on key current issues.  Both the Industrial Group and Council get a break until September as the Chamber does not hold these meetings in August because of the holiday season and people away on annual leave.

Until next time

Life is for Living – #Life is Sligo.

Conor McCarthy

President Sligo Chamber