New plan is first of nine Regional Enterprise Plans to be launched by Minister Humphreys to drive enterprise growth in the regions.
Separately, the Minister officiates at a significant jobs announcement for the midlands by the Supermac’s and SÓ Hotels Groups.
The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys, 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, and Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan.
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, 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).
Note to Editors:
Regional Enterprise Plans:
- The Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan contains the following Strategic Objectives and specific actions have been set out under each area:
- Strategic Objective 1: Ensure that the Midlands is well positioned to address the challenges posed by the transition to a low carbon economy and renewable energy
- Strategic Objective 2: Leverage opportunities in big data and data analytics from iLOFAR
- Strategic Objective 3: Position and support the growth of the Midlands as an advanced manufacturing centre of excellence
- Strategic Objective 4: Enhance the collective offering of the Midlands as a place to live, work and invest in
- Strategic Objective 5: Strengthen the attractiveness of the Midlands as a destination to visit
- Strategic Objective 6: Harness the potential of the food and beverage industry in the Midlands
- Strategic Objective 7: Ensure the availability of skills and talent to realise the Midlands’ economic potential and address upskilling requirements
- Co-ordinated by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, nine Regional Enterprise Plans have been developed for: Midlands, South-East, South-West, Mid-West, West, North-West, North-East, Mid-East and Dublin.
- Launches by Minister Humphreys will take place in the following locations:
Galway City, Galway
Dublin City, Dublin
- In developing the Regional Enterprise Plans, each individual Regional Implementation Committee was asked by Minister Humphreys to take into consideration their work to date on the original Regional Action Plans for Jobs (RAPJs), the new challenges, strengths and opportunities that the region currently faces, and to strategically elevate areas where they could support enterprise development in their region through collaborative actions.
- The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Ms Heather Humphreys TD met with the Chairs of the RAPJ Committees and up to 100 regional stakeholders in Farmleigh in April 2018 to commence the process.
- The Strategic Objectives and actions in each of the new Regional Enterprise Plans are set out alongside the Enterprise Agencies’ (EI, IDA, LEOs) core activities. The Plans therefore are aimed at adding value to what the Agencies are doing on the ground, through collaborative actions.
- As a ‘bottom-up’ initiative, the Plans complement national level policies and programmes emanating from the ‘top-down’ and in particular, there is strong alignment with Ireland’s recently national enterprise policy, Enterprise 2025 Renewed and the forthcoming Future Jobs Ireland initiative.
- The Regional Enterprise Plans are two-year focused plans to end 2020 and they are also ‘live’ documents, with the expectation that new initiatives can be taken on during their operation by the regional stakeholders working together.
- The 2020 targets initially set out under the Regional Action Plan for Jobs (RAPJ) 2015 – 2017/8 remain in place – that is to have a further 10 to 15 per cent at work in each region by 2020, with the aim of having the unemployment rate of each region within one percentage point of the State average. The new Plans are also seeking to generate enterprise growth and resilience, and to enable the creation of employment that is of good quality and sustainable over the longer term.
- While the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and its agencies are facilitating and supporting the renewal of the regional Plans, if they are to be successful, they need to be owned and delivered by the key stakeholders of the region, with significant private sector involvement continuing to be a critical part of the framework.
- ‘Enterprise Champions’ will continue to be a central part of the leadership in each region to help drive the process forward, and the Steering Committees charged with implementing the Plans are chaired by senior business people.
- The actions set out in the Regional Enterprise Plans include timelines for delivery, with responsibility allocated to the relevant parties. The intention is that each Plan will be monitored at regional level to ensure local responsibility for delivery, with the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation overseeing the process and progress at the national level.
- The Regional Enterprise Plans have a strong complementary role to play in the context of Project Ireland 2040, and more specifically in the implementation of the National Planning Framework and its constituent Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies (RSESs) at NUTS 2 (Regional Assembly) level.
The Regional Enterprise Development Fund (REDF):
The REDF is a €60m competitive fund introduced by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and administered by Enterprise Ireland. It is aimed at supporting collaborative and innovative projects that can help to sustain and add to employment at a national, regional and county level.
In total, 42 projects have been awarded funding over two completed Calls worth a total of €60m, with projects supported in every region.
Today’s launch was held at the Mountmellick Development Association headquarters in Mountmellick, Co. Laois, which received €218,200 in funding in December 2018 under the REDF to develop the Beale Centre for Business Excellence.
The Midlands Region has secured total funding of over €3.4 million across four projects under the two completed REDF Calls:
- Irish Manufacturing Research CLG, Mullingar: Irish Manufacturing Research(IMR) is a not for profit CLG company that was formed in 2014 with the mission to facilitate significant growth and job creation in the Irish manufacturing sector. It develops and commercialises next generation manufacturing technologies, deemed critical by Irish companies, through a collaborative industrial engagement business model.
- Offaly Innovation & Design Centre CLG: a creative suite to provide a unique, central location and space 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). [see more details below]
- Mountmellick Development Association CLG: project to develop the Beale Centre for Business Excellence. [see more details below]
- Longford is a partner in a Stream 2 project to develop a network of three Digital and Innovation Hubs with Leitrim and Cavan.
Offaly Innovation & Design Centre CLG:
STREAM Creative Suite located in the Birr Technology Centre will provide a central location and space, where research and education meet business, leveraging the big data being generated through the I‐LOFAR telescope at Birr Castle. This data can be utilised for training purposes and for proving algorithms for many sectors. Professors and researchers of universities affiliated with the international LOFAR network together with Software Developers and Data Analysts from companies based in the Midlands region will have the opportunity to use the STREAM Creative Suite – either through regular hot desk usage or through the establishment of a base there. STREAM Creative Suite encompasses science, technology, research, engineering, arts and maths, from research to commercialisation – all underpinned by Big Data.
The project partners include:
- Offaly County Council
- Local Enterprise Office Offaly
- Athlone Institute of Technology
- Trinity College Dublin/I-LOFAR Consortium
- Industry in the Region
Mountmellick Development Association (Beale Centre for Business Excellence)
The Beale Centre for Business Excellence will be a state-of-the-art facility which will be the physical location in which the state agencies, 3rd level institutions and service providers work with people starting new and expanding existing businesses. The facility will provide the latest technology along with open plan hot desks, office pods, meeting, teleconferencing rooms and state of the art commercial kitchens. The Beale Centre will, through its partnerships, provide a high level of support for all levels of start‐ups with a focus on job generation in the Midlands region. Through collaboration with Maynooth University, companies identified as having HPSU potential will be mentored by the Maynooth team while physically located in the Beale Centre. As part of this collaboration an Agri‐Food Innovation lab will be developed within the current Food Hub. Partners include Laois County Council, Laois LEO, Laois Partnership Company, Laois Offaly ETB, Bank of Ireland, Mountmellick Credit Union, Tusla & the Department of Social Protection and the National Rural Networks.