Build on Success, Regional Strengths and Improve Connectivity…key messages from Industry Leaders at Shannon Chamber business lunch

Helen Downes, CEO, Shannon Chamber (front) pictured at the Shannon Chamber business lunch in Dromoland Castle Hotel with (from left): Denis Curran, IDA Ireland, David Fitzgibbon, CREGG Recruitment, Enda O’Coineen, Kilcullen Capital and Sunday Business Post, Mary Considine, acting CEO, Shannon Group plc and president, Shannon Chamber, Declan Dooley, Kilcullen Capital and, Mark Christal, Enterprise Ireland. Photo: Eamon Ward.


The success achieved to date in the Mid-West region has been due to exemplar collaborative partnerships and its world-leading diverse foreign direct base in a wide range of sectors. This has contributed to a six per cent increase in employment in IDA client companies in the Mid-West where employment now stands at 18,948 and, with an emphasis on balanced regional distribution, where regions benefit, this upward trajectory is likely to continue.


This was one of the key messages delivered to an audience of regional business executives at a business lunch, organised by Shannon Chamber and supported by CREGG Recruitment, where the focus was on the way forward for Shannon and the Mid-West region. This event followed the publication of a Shannon 2.0 supplement in the Sunday Business Post which showcased the scope of activities being undertaken by companies in a broad range of sectors in Shannon.


Denis Curran, head of regional development, corporate services and engineering with IDA Ireland outlined the key indicators that investors look at when choosing a new location. These include: whether the location is  an urban or regional centre of scale; its ability to attract and retain talent; the competitiveness of the property offer and if it is world class; the alignment of education with industry needs; the capacity and capability of the region’s infrastructure; the connectedness of research being undertaken; the scale and capability of existing industry clusters; the level of collaboration and engagement between regional stakeholders; the living, working and recreational aspects of the region and; the stability, predictability and ease of doing business in the county and the region.


Commenting on the way forward for the region, Mr Curran added: “The region should work on the success it has built up to date. It has a world leading, diverse FDI base in so many sectors and, with Jaguar Land Rover operating from Shannon, it is well placed to build a connected and autonomous vehicle cluster. This coupled with the fact that IDA Ireland is building an advanced manufacturing centre in the National Technology Park in Limerick and has appointed a new regional manager, augers well for the region.


“Shannon’s name is synonymous with enterprise development and a brand name for attracting global names. It has traditionally been the vanguard and trail blazer for attracting FDI and this is set to continue,” he added.


Outlining Enterprise Ireland’s plans for the future, divisional manager regions and entrepreneurship Division, Mark Christal said the key priorities for 2019 have been on driving innovation, increasing the research and development (R&D) capability and the competitiveness of its small and medium-sized client base.


Stating that fintech, engineering, consumer retail, digital technology, construction and life sciences are the sectors currently driving exports, he referred to the key pillars of success as being centred on maximising SME growth.


“This is a big challenge. We don’t have enough SME success stories. We need to see more companies avail of the range of supports available from Enterprise Ireland,” he added.


Key issues raised during a panel discussion with contributors Mary Considine, acting chief executive, Shannon Group plc, Denis Curran, IDA Ireland, Mark Christal, Enterprise Ireland and Enda O’Coineen, Kilcullen Capital and owner of the Sunday Business Post, and moderated by Declan Dooley, Kilcullen Capital included the need to increase connectivity at Shannon Airport and the requirement for a funding mechanism to support route development at regional airports; a need to challenge how we look at regions and their competitiveness on a global scale rather than on an in-county scale and; the essentiality of developing diverse industry clusters.


As Enda O’ Coineen, an accomplished business owner and author of the recently published ‘Journey to the Edge’, an amazing story of risk-taking in business and adventure, stated: “The key themes that came out of today are connectivity, community and passion. There is no magic formula to success; just get out and do it.”