Shannon Chamber proposes national pilot scheme for Shannon Region

“Showcasing potential of native industry can lead to many benefits”, says Chamber CEO

Shannon Chamber has proposed that the Government should make provision, in the upcoming Budget, for a national pilot scheme to be established in the Shannon Region to intensively promote a greater awareness of the role of native enterprise and entrepreneurship.

If Ireland is to have a balanced economy as it moves out of recession, there is a need to grow indigenous industries and champion entrepreneurship, Helen Downes, Shannon Chamber CEO said.

“Now is the time, therefore, to showcase the sector and the potential that exists in an intensive way. An ‘Enterprise Awareness’ Pilot Scheme could achieve this objective, in a number of ways,” she added.

Addressing a special pre-Budget briefing organised by the Irish Taxation Institute in conjunction with the CTA Mid-West Network, Ms Downes elaborated on the Chamber’s proposal.

“A pilot scheme could make existing industry owners and would-be entrepreneurs more aware of the vast array of incentives and supports that are available. From a Government viewpoint, this pilot scheme could highlight not only any relevant taxation or other measures in this year’s Budget but policy interventions introduced over previous years.

“It could also showcase the many achievements of leading companies in the sector and demonstrate, in a very forceful manner, their invaluable contribution to the nation as excellent role models,” she said.

Another purpose of a pilot programme of this nature would be to emphasise the potential of self-employment as a viable career option, either for those currently in employment or in the education system, the Chamber CEO stressed.

“It is noteworthy that a number of leading Shannon-based SMEs, such as Modular Automation, Smithstown Light Engineering and Mincon, which are currently exporting their wares all over the globe, all owe their origins to enterprising employees of multinationals in Shannon who decided to follow their dream and venture out on their own in business,” Ms Downes added.

Stating that the Pilot Scheme should be focused on a particular geographic area to make it as meaningful as possible, Helen Downes pointed out that the resultant lessons, experiences and profile could be subsequently applied nationwide and could also help to inform future national policy.

“I can think of no better location than the Shannon Region for this purpose. The Region has a history of innovation and pioneering spirit down through the decades.

“Enterprise Ireland, which is the agency responsible for the development and growth of Irish businesses in world markets, has its regional HQ in the Region. There are many other bodies, such as Local Enterprise Offices, education and training agencies also involved in that sector.”

She added that Shannon Chamber is willing to work with other Chambers in the Region to help drive this process.

“A crucial factor is the presence of numerous successful business owners and entrepreneurs who can provide practical and direct ‘hands-on’ mentoring and guidance to others as wonderful role models for those aspiring to follow their path.

“An example of this is where vibrant Shannon-based companies Reagecon and Modular Automation will feature in a special R&D Workshop being organised by the Chamber in association with Enterprise Ireland and Grant Thornton at Intel Shannon on October 8th.”

In her presentation, Ms Downes also reflected some of the views of Chamber members on their hopes for the forthcoming Budget. These include the need to ensure equal taxation treatment of owner-managers and the self-employed compared with the PAYE tax payer. A reduction in Capital Gains Tax in order to stimulate increased investment in productive enterprises and SMEs is also suggested. The Chamber also recommends that factors such as social security levies and childcare supports should be carefully considered for attention in order to create the optimum taxation climate and support structures for employment creation.