Wednesday the 6th of February saw Minister of state for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphrey, travel to Mountmellick to announce the Regional Enterprise Plan (REP) for the Midlands. She was joined by Charlie Flanagan TD Minister for Justice and Equability and Richard Bruton TD Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment. The Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan is one of nine plans being launched from a process to reform and revitalise the Regional Action Plan for Jobs.
The REP for the Midlands will focus on seven key strategic objectives:
- Ensure the Midlands is well positioned to address the challenges posed by the transition to a low carbon economy and renewable energy.
- Leveraging Opportunities in Big Data and Data Analytics from I-LOFAR.
- Position and support the growth of the Midlands as an advanced manufacturing centre of excellence.
- Enhance the collective offering of the Midlands as a place to live, work and invest in.
- Strengthen the attractiveness of the Midlands as a destination to visit.
- Harness the potential of the food and beverage industry in the midlands.
- Ensure the availability of skills and talent to realise the Region’s economic potential and address upskilling requirements.
Portlaoise will lead the way in addressing the challenges posed by the transition to a low carbon economy and has been designated as a “Low Carbon Town”. The Pilot programme was successful in securing funding under the first call of the Urban Regeneration Development Fund. This pilot programme will serve as a roadmap of the development and rollout of similar low carbon initiatives in county tows across the region.
Speaking at the Mountmellick Development Association which recently received funding from the Departments Regional Enterprise Development Fund for The Beale Centre.
Minister Humphreys Stated:
“The collaboration in evidence here in Mountmellick is a great example of what these new Regional Enterprise Plans are fundamentally about. 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.”
Minister Humphrey went on to emphasise the need for quality sustainable jobs in the midlands and the need to build on regional strength in the area of manufacturing for the Midlands to reach its huge potential.
Speaking about the wide range of collaborators involved she added:
“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.”
Echoing Minister Humphrey’s statement Minister Flanagan spoke about the growth of the Midlands, highlighting the reduction of unemployment in the region by 5,000 and the fall of the live register by 53% since 2015. He commended the Mountmellick Development Association which has played a crucial role of ensuring Mountmellick adapted its business environment through the years.
Minister Flanagan stated:
“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”.
Speaking about the Low Carbon Town Initiative Minister Bruton added:
“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.”
The Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan is the first of nine plans being announced over the coming days that will focus on supporting sustainable economic growth and job creation in the regions through collaboration. The full document on the Regional Enterprise Plan 2020 for the Midlands will be available on the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation website here.
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