One of Ballyshannon’s leading business figures has described the economic future facing the town as “challenging” and added that in such a difficult environment it was vital that “whatever supports possible can be put in place” should be offered to “maintain the existing businesses in the town, never mind attract new ones.”
John Keon, a former Managing Director of Donegal Creameries, was speaking at the launch of the Backing Ballyshannon Web Portal on Friday evening in the town’s Abbey Arts Centre.
The Web Portal, designed free of charge by NUIG graduate Deirdre Lee, is the latest in a series of initiatives that have emerged from a two day think-thank forum held in the town last November.
Up to 50 specific tasks were identified at that forum and a steering committee chaired by former Donegal County Council manager, Mickey McLoone is tasked with making those ideas a reality.
Giving the challenges that face the town a context, John Keon, who was MC at Friday’s launch, said that it was relevant to look at the changes in the town’s economic make-up since November last when they first met, to appreciate just how quickly things change in the business world.
In that time frame he noted that five businesses had closed in the town while several others had changed hands or moved to new sites. He said it should also be noted that there were four new businesses opened in the same period and he was aware that some of the James LIkely employees who had lost their jobs in late 2010 were now working on the Enniskillen hospital project while some others had diversified into their own companies.
It’s also understood that Bundoran-based pharmacy chain - Cara Pharmacy - have purchesed the C&C base in Ballyshannon and will use it as a warehouse/offices for their expanding business. Two other locals, John Fenton and Larry Dolan, he said, had joined forces to pursue new ventures.
“There is a balance then in the news we have to offer and more particularly when you look at the activity levels in the town from other organisations such as the Business Chamber, it’s fair to say that there have been some excellent ideas and efforts to improve the situation generally.”
He added however, that the task ahead was to turn the positivity and the many excellent ideas generated in November 2010 into real projects, some of them with short, medium and long term timelines.
Steering committee chairman Mickey McLoone went through the comprehensive plans in detail, outlining four distinct areas ‘of attack’. He said the key having identified the areas to be taken on, was to identify the people who would deliver on these plans.
In particular he thanked the Town Clerk, Mary Daly, who had agreed to act as secretary for the Backing Ballyshannon initiative and who has, he said, “already got through a huge volume of work” on the projects. Liam Ward, Town Manager, said the Town Council and the councillors would offer “every support” to the plans.