Regional Enterprise Plan for the West will leverage strengths of the region to support job creation and local businesses
On Monday I attended the launch of the Regional Enterprise Plan for the West by Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys at the PorterShed in the city.
The Regional Enterprise Plan aims to achieve employment growth of between 10 and 15% and an unemployment rate of within one per cent of the State average. The Plan has been drawn up by officials from the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation with strong input from a range of organisations including the IDA, Enterprise Ireland, local authorities, the Western Development Commission, Údarás na Gaeltachta, NUIG, GMIT, the Education and Training Boards, chambers of commerce and other business representative groups.
Four years ago the first Action Plan for Jobs for the West was launched and over that time has helped to increase employment numbers in the West by 28,400 and drive down the unemployment rate from 12.6% to 6.6% (as per CSO figures).
Recently-published figures for last year show a strong employment market in the West with the IDA supporting over 100 companies employing almost 26,000 people, Enterprise Ireland supporting over 390 businesses employing over 14,500 and Údarás na Gaeltachta client companies employing almost 3,000 people in Galway alone.
The new Regional Enterprise Plan for the West seeks to build on the progress achieved to date and is strongly aligned with the national polices such as Enterprise 2025 and the soon-to-be-launched Future Jobs Ireland.
The Regional Enterprise Plan also aligns with the funding of over €7.1 million the West has been allocated under the Regional Enterprise Development Fund. The projects being supported include the PorterShed and Galway City Innovation District, the Páirc na Mara Marine Innovation Development Centre in Cill Chiaráin and the BIA Innovator Campus in Athenry.
Among the six strategic objectives of the Plan are building capacity in the life sciences sector, ensuring sustainable growth in tourism, developing the West’s creative sector, realising the potential of the AgTech sector, aligning training and education to local current and future skills needs, and enhancing the quality and availability of enterprise space in the West.
In the West we are fortunate to have developed clusters of particular industries from life sciences to tourism to the creative sector, the latter of which has benefited immeasurably from the Irish Language and TG 4. We also have a strong culture of research and innovation with centres such as CURAM and the Regenerative Medicine Institute to the Galway Technology Centre and the PorterShed.
I am confident that the new Regional Enterprise Plan, which has been drawn up over many months, in consultation with stakeholders from across the West, will help us to continue to grow and sustain employment which is essential for vibrant and strong communities across our region.