President’s Blog – This Time for the Last Time

This time for the last time

Hello Members – So this is it!  The last Blog of this Presidential Year.  And as I look back through the Blogs, I am struck by the parallels in the activities ongoing at the time of writing the first Blog on February 25th 2019 and those ongoing now at the time of this, the last Blog.

In February last year, David Minton, Director of the Northern and Western Regional Assembly (NWRA) made a presentation to our Industrial Group on the Assembly’s Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy which it was finalising at that time.  Last Tuesday, David Minton was again in contact with the Chamber requesting CEO Aidan Doyle to promote the NWRA’s new major study.  Entitled “A Region in Transition: The Way Forward” the report outlines that our region has much potential but needs an official policy of “positive discrimination” in order to accelerate growth.

The first Blog reported on the visit of myself and CEO Aidan to Brussels for two days’ meetings and engagements at the European Commission and in the European Parliament.  The Blog noted that “Of particular interest was an overview of the state of play in the Brexit negotiations from Nina Obermaier, the Principal Advisor to the Deputy Chief Task Force for the Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom”.

And here we are almost one year later, with the UK finally leaving the EU at 11 pm on Friday last January 31st.  While in Brussels, the first Blog also reported that myself and CEO Aidan had a meeting with “Sligo’s own Marian Harkin”, then a Member of the European Parliament.  Last Tuesday, January 28th, one year on, myself and CEO Aidan were meeting with Marian Harkin again.  This time it was part of a series of meetings that myself as President, David Kiely, Chair of our Industrial Group and CEO Aidan had with candidates seeking election to the new 33rd Dail.  Over the course of last week, and hosted in the Chamber Offices, we held individual meetings with Declan Bree, Nessa Cosgrove, Frank Feighan, Marian Harkin, Marc MacSharry, Eamon Scanlon and Thomas Walsh during which we presented the Sligo Chamber Manifesto and outlined the Sligo Chamber key priorities.

The first Blog also reported on my meeting with the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar T.D., at the GW Plastics new job announcement in Finisklin on February 22nd, 2019 and now one year later, the question exercising all armchair politicians is who will be Taoiseach when the 33rd Dáil convenes on February 20th 2020, one year later.

So while the first Blog was entitled “A Whirlwind Start” which that first week indeed was, the last week has been equally busy with the seven separate one-hour meetings with Dáil candidates. And this is without mentioning other Sligo Chamber Team member activities including CEO Aidan attending last Wednesday the launch of a new book “what is past or passing or to come” as part of the IT Sligo 50th year celebrations.

Past President Des Faul attended the Sligo Economic Forum presentation on the progress with the “Sligo Smart City 2020-2030 Strategy” to the returning visiting delegation from JASPERS, (Joint Assistance to Support Projects in European Regions).  JASPERS’ partners are the European Commission, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).  JASPERS assistance to Sligo in the development of this strategy is seen as being key to successfully preparing programmes and urban schemes for the city and the county that will ultimately be recipients of European funding for developments.

The work of Sligo Chamber Skillnet continued with Skillnet Manager Geraldine Courtenay having a very successful day on Monday last for the launch of the Project Management Course with some 21 participants.  This was followed on Tuesday by the Frontline Managers Course, another course being successfully run by Geraldine.

Since February last year, there have been 44 Blogs with a total of some 32,341 words including one Blog called “Print to Screen” where the Blog was delivered through the medium of a video produced with the Sligo Chamber media partner, Ocean FM.  During that period, through the medium of the Blogs, we have sought to reinforce the Sligo Chamber vision.  That vision being that by the year 2040, Sligo will be a major regional centre in Ireland serving a population of 400,000 and driving regional and rural growth.  A vision where Sligo will be the central hub of a region that is fully sustainable and where our children can live, work and thrive in a safe environment, an environment that is community lead and offers real quality of life.

Tourism has been prominent throughout the Blogs, again with a focus on the Sligo Chamber vision for Tourism, a vision that by 2040, 2 million visitors will be attracted annually to the Wild Atlantic Way’s outstanding Northwest coastline and to the wide variety of adventure, culture and food experiences in the region.

We have reported on the successes, notably the 1,800 jobs announced over the past 18 months and on the numerous infrastructure projects announced as part of the ongoing €225 million central investment in the region.  We have spoken about collaboration and also about working collaboratively with our partners, the IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Sligo County Council, IT Sligo, the Western Development Commission and the Atlantic Economic Corridor, all with a collective aim of delivering balanced regional growth.

But, above all, the Blog has been about communication, communication with you our member firms, about letting you know what our Chamber Team of Aidan, Mary, Geraldine, Olive & Alan have been doing every day to promote Sligo on your behalf.  Feedback on the Blog has been fantastic, and I would like to thank you all for your encouragement and your positive words throughout the year.  They meant a lot.  And now, more than ever, we recognise the importance of continued member communication with you our members.  While this chapter of the Blog closes, a new chapter will open.

Following on from the success of the Blog, we are committed to continuing to raise Sligo Chamber’s profile on social media and increase its following and promote awareness of the great work that Chamber does for businesses and the community.  Starting this month, we will embark on this new chapter through creating original, frequent posts on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and E-mail.

These posts will include a mixture of content related to current and upcoming projects that Sligo Chamber are working on.  We will also seek to profile local businesses and develop short videos building on the theme of #Life is Sligo”.

And so to conclude, I am very pleased to sign off as President in the knowledge that communication will continue through this new format.  Once again, I would like to thank you all for your support throughout the year.  I have enjoyed every moment.  I would like to wish our new incoming President, Karl Kelly, every success for the year ahead.  Karl assumes the role of President this Wednesday, February 5th at the Presidential Handover in the Glasshouse starting at 6.15 p.m.  All the best Karl. Roll on 2020.


That’s it for now!

And this time, not until next time

Rather for the last time!


Life is for Living – #Life is Sligo.

Conor McCarthy

President Sligo Chamber