Chamber Progress Report to Members – July 2015
At the start of 2015, Sligo Chamber set out its priorities for the year. The following is an update on progress in relation to the issues that are of importance to our member in “Helping Sligo Grow”.
- The Chamber has lobbied extensively to have the Castlebaldwin to Collooney stretch of the N4 included in the Government’s Capital allocations for 2016. Our understanding at this point is that a decision will be made before September and that the N4 project is being actively considered along with the Castlebar to Westport Project and the Cork to Ringaskiddy project. Whilst we will continue to exert political pressure to secure funding for the N4, it is vitally important that all of our members and the wider Sligo community continue to exert this pressure also.
- 2. Access to Natural Gas:
- The Chamber engaged with Gas Networks Ireland (GNI) in February of 2015. Currently GNI are researching the energy load in Sligo. This will take some time, but GNI need to have a good understanding of the impact this would have on any appraisal for the roll out of natural gas to Sligo.
- The indicative route and any engineering issues are also being reviewed. This will give GNI an understanding of the costs associated with taking a pipeline to Sligo.
- Significant funding is required for such a project. Accessing such funds is key to the project proceeding. Work is being carried out in this area.
- While it would not be possible to give any timeline as to when or if the project may happen, given the scale of the project, it could not happen before the end of 2017 at the earliest.
3. Combined Heat and Power
The Chamber are currently engaged with a Company who wish to introduce a Combined Heat and Power plant in Sligo. The proposal revolves around the plant being fuelled by local wood resources to produce electricity with the associated heat load transferring to a District Heating System within the Town. This is a very exciting proposal which is Carbon friendly and as such will prove attractive to new and existing industry.
4. Industry Accommodation
- The Chamber is aware of the diminishing stock of available land and buildings to attract new industry to Sligo. The Chamber is therefore lobbying local government, along with the IDA, to open up the IDA Oakfield site for development. This is seen as being crucial towards the development of our Industrial base.
5. Enhanced business services with Irish Rail
- The Chamber met with Irish Rail in February 2015. Items for discussion included:
- Having Sligo included in a luxury National rail in itinerary for overseas tours.
- Introducing a business class service between Sligo and Dublin in the mornings and evenings
- Irish Rail supporting events such as Yeats 2015, Fleadh Cheoil and Yeats 2015
- Irish Rail have requested the Chamber to engage with them further in relation to the business service and we are currently awaiting a further meeting with them.
- The Chamber hosted a meeting with Eirgrid in May in relation to the roll out of the National Electricity Grid and subsequently made a detailed submission towards the Eirgrid Consultation process. The provision of high quality energy is a fundamental ingredient towards our economic development.
7. Development of the Atlantic Economic Corridor
- The Chamber continues to make significant representations and contributions towards the establishment of an Atlantic Economic Corridor (AEC) to act as a counter pole to the economic development on the East coast.
- The AEC is a collaborative effort of Limerick, Shannon, Ennis, Galway and Sligo Chambers, initially.
- The vision of the AEC is to realise the economic opportunity that is present, to bring jobs and investment, to the Atlantic Corridor.
- The vision is a statement of purpose and intent, largely intended to mobilise the business community and the agencies of government and the higher education institutions. It seeks to focus on opportunity and channel energy to maximise economic outcomes in favour of the region. With the charter it addresses 8 key principles or goals including;
i. Actively pursue Balanced Regional Progress
ii. Strengthen Enterprise Development through alignment, collaboration and investment
iii. Create a dynamic ‘City’ effect of scale through an Economic Corridor
iv. Enhance the Technology, Research, Skill Capacity and Reputation of the region
v. Seek the Infrastructure Investment necessary to support this growth
vi. Promote a Modern Rural Development based on rich Natural Resources and Human Capacity
vii. Identify and actively promote Areas of Competitive Advantage
viii. Promote Social Cohesion and Equality to maximise contribution and citizenship
ix. The Chambers (Limerick, Ennis, Shannon, Galway, and Sligo) fully realise the challenge inherent in taking this initiative forward and want to encourage a new behaviour that is based on increasing trust, openness, and a willingness to collaborate and encourage collaboration. The scale of the initiative requires the alliance of chambers to reach out to other representative organisations in business, sport and in urban and rural communities. The Chambers also accept that each chamber or participating entity will not always support aspects of the initiative or may compete for investment and have the option to abstain when a proposal or project is not in their specific interest.
8. Developing Linkages with 3rd Level institutions
- EU Project
- The Chamber is an Associate Partner in an EU application led by IT Sligo to develop a mechanism to narrow the gap between skills provision and demand at third level.
- If successful, the programme will lead towards a situation where there will be greater coherence and responsiveness from the third level sector towards the demands of current and future employers.
9. Surf Summit
- The Chamber played a very active role in the collaborative effort to secure the Surf Summit to Sligo. The Surf Summit takes place over the weekend of 6/7 November where between 600-800 tech start-ups, entrepreneurs and investors will stay in Sligo for the weekend to enjoy its adventure offering whilst also seeing all that Sligo has to offer that entrepreneurial community.
10. Yeats 2015
- The Chamber has been represented on the National Steering Group of Yeats 2015 and the Local Yeats Day committee. Sligo has benefited hugely from the renewed interest in the Yeats Family over 2015 and the focus must now shift towards building on this momentum.
- The Chamber have engaged at Board level with both Failte Ireland and Tourism Ireland who now are developing a greater understanding of how the Yeats family’s legacy can be an economic driver, not just for Sligo but for the North West region of Ireland.
- The main focus of the Chamber’s energy on building on this legacy will be on the development of a Yeats Centre of world renown in Sligo. The feasibility study for this centre has been completed following wide consultation with a myriad of local, national and international stakeholders. The Chamber is very grateful towards those private individuals who contributed very significant amounts of money towards the development of this project to this stage.
11. Developing the City Core
- The Chamber is engaged with the CEO of the County Council on plans to develop “The City Core”. A 12 Point Plan submitted by the Chamber in 2012, and continually amended is attached at Annex A to this document.
The Chamber has held a series of networking events in 2015 including but not limited to the following:
i. Presidential Handover (Coach Lane)
ii. Chamber EXPO (Clarion)
iii. Chamber Lunch with the US Ambassador (Sligo Park)
iv. Chamber AGM (Model)
v. Chamber Lunch with Padraig O Maille (Clarion)
vi. Golf Classic (Castle Dargan Golf Resort)
Upcoming events include:
i. Annual Dinner (Sligo Park)
ii. Christmas Lunch (Glasshouse)
13. Local Authority Finances
The Chamber has repeatedly sought a meeting with Minister Allan Kelly to discuss the finances of Sligo County Council, to no avail. The Chamber wishes to convey to the Minister the views of the business community of Sligo who see the current impasse and future financial outlook for our Local Authority as being detrimental towards any attempt to deliver on the Government’s action plan for jobs. The Chamber has communicated numerous economic development initiatives carried out by local authorities throughout the Country that cannot and will not happen in Sligo because of the financial circumstances that our Local Authority finds itself in.
- The Chamber is represented on the Local Community Development Committee, established in July 2014 with responsibility to oversee the development and roll out of the Local Community and Economic Development Plan by the end of 2015.
- The Chamber’s proposal to the LCDC to have Sligo Town included in the future roll out of the LEADER programme has resulted in the situation where for the first time, groups in Sligo town can now avail of LEADER funding when the Rural Development Programme gets underway later this year.
- The Chamber made a detailed submission to the economic development aspect of the plan and will continue to monitor its application as the plan evolves. Copies of this submission are available on our Website.
15. Entrepreneur Exchange
- The Chamber intends to host, for the third year running, the Entrepreneur Exchange programme which is a 24 hour event linking 24 up and coming entrepreneurs with 24 successful entrepreneurs. The programme is going from strength to strength and serves the purpose of linking advice, networks and in some cases investment for the SME community in Sligo and beyond.
- The Chamber hosted its EXPO in the Clarion Hotel in April. 40 members took stands at this free event which is aimed at helping our members make business connections with their fellow Chamber members
- There were two speakers at the EXPO, David Fitzimons from Retail Excellence Ireland and Eoghan Prendergast from the Limerick Marketing Company. The Limerick Marketing Company is a company established by the local authority to promote Limerick City and County for Tourism and Investment. The Chamber has being lobbying, unsuccessfully thus far, for a similar initiative in County Sligo.
17. Public Meeting
- The Chamber hosted a Public Meeting on June 24th following some very negative commentary relating to the Chamber’s position on sequential development generally, and particularly in relation to its questioning the practices of Home Store and More in 2012.
- The meeting, which was attended by 200 (approx) could be reasonably described “open and frank”, where many members of the Sligo Community expressed frustration at the level of economic progress in Sligo. The meeting provided an opportunity for the Chamber to articulate what it does to the wider community but more importantly, what it does not do. This was important in that there was a perception in some quarters that the Chamber had the same role and responsibilities as our Local Authority.
- We propose to hold a similar meeting in January of 2016.
- The Chamber lobbied extensively locally to ensure that our Local Authority supported a regional plan to provide essential funding towards Ireland West Airport Knock (IWAK).
- International Air Access is a vital ingredient towards our future economic development for both tourism and enterprise. Whilst it is a further manifestation of the divide in the allocation of National resources where Dublin, Cork and Shannon Airports are heavily subsidised by the State, the Chamber took the view that in the absence of State intervention, IWAK should be supported through the regional local authorities who have a statutory responsibility for economic development within their respective areas.
19. Chamber meeting in September
The Chamber is to hold a meeting for all its members on September 16th at 6:30pm to discuss these and other issues. We would encourage all our members to attend this meeting in order to ensure that our current goal and activities are continually aligned to the views and aspirations of our members.
Please feel free to contact your Chamber Office at any stage in the intervening period if you wish to discuss any matter that you feel would be of mutual benefit to our members.
UPDATED JUNE 2015
|– Develop Coach Park on site of Quay Street Car Park while maintaining the long term objective to create Quay Square, a public square or park.||
|– Require the installation of high-quality signage and shop fronts on all commercial properties within city core.- Continue policy of providing decorative covering to all currently unoccupied facades in city core and to prominently exposed facades.||
|– Continue policy to green city core through planting trees, flowers and planter boxes||
|– Carry out environmental enhancement works to O’Connell Street, pavement refurbishment and new street furniture.||
|– Take decisive decision to establish realistic deliverable plan for Centre Block Area enclosed by O’Connell St., Wine St., Adelaide St. and John St.||
|– Prepare Local Area Plan for Docklands to include mixed use zoning, both retail and non-retail and pedestrian friendly crossings of Inner Relief Road.||
|– Require overhead wires in city core to be placed underground.||
|– Reconstruct the weir in the Garavogue River at Hyde Bridge||
|– Create Stephen Square as a public square on the site of Stephen- Street car park.||
|– Have an Approved Planning Application for the Centre Block Area.||
|– Create pedestrian linkages between the Bus and Train Stations and the central city area.||
|– Create Quay Square, a public square or park on site of Quay Street Car Park.||