Michael McLoone is Chair of the Backing Ballyshannon steering group. He is currently a member of the Board of Enterprise Ireland. He was Donegal County Enterprise Board Chair for 16 years until 2010.
One of the key priorities of the ‘Backing Ballyshannon’ initiative is to promote activities that can lead to the creation of employment and increasing economic growth.
The support of local business firms and leaders who are already providing employment in the area is critical to the achievement of this objective.
They provide the evidence that the town and local area is a good location from which to start and grow a sustainable business. These firms provide a wide range of different goods and services to a great variety of markets both in Ireland and abroad.
They can also become reference sites for any entrepreneur or business owner who is enquiring about the setting up of a business in Ballyshannon or surrounding area. The profiling of these companies in the booklet which will be published in association with the event and the display of goods and services provided by these companies at the exhibition stands in the lakeside centre can provide great encouragement and support for anybody planning to set up a business in the area.
Local firms and business leaders are also the right people to provide the testimonials that Ballyshannon and the surrounding area is a competitive and attractive location from which to do business. They can explain how the availability of good staff, good telecommunications infrastructure, utilities, serviced land, as well as excellent amenities, social cultural and sporting activities make the area an attractive location in which to live and to do business.
Rationale for linking a community initiative to a Regional Enterprise and Skills event:
The challenge of developing enterprise, creating jobs and promoting economic growth in any town or community in Ireland is well beyond the resources, capabilities or remit of local community groups or local Councils. For such local community initiatives, such as ‘Backing Ballyshannon’ to succeed, it needs to be delivered under the umbrella of the Governments enterprise policy and job creation plan. It also needs to be done in partnership with the States enterprise development agencies – Enterprise Ireland, IDA, County Enterprise Board, Donegal Local Development Company, Letterkenny & Sligo Institutes of Technology, FÁS, Dept. of Social Protection, etc., - and in consultation with local voluntary / community groups – the CDP, Tírhugh centre etc. This is why the local initiative in Ballyshannon is being developed and promoted within a much wider Government programme promoting national and regional strategies for job creation.
The regional Enterprise and Skills Roadshow will greatly help Government and the state agencies in communicating with individual entrepreneurs, firms, local communities, school leavers or others interested in setting up or expanding their business, the range of services and supports that are available from the different agencies. The regional and local roadshow also provides a platform from which to disseminate more detailed information at local and regional level about Irish and multi-national companies operating in the region, the kind of services and jobs that they provide, and the vacancies that currently exist. This will help to highlight the education and skills requirements needed to get jobs in these companies.
Finally, the roadshows will provide information on the rapidly changing business environment in Ireland and how best to cope with it – changes in the cost base for doing business, in the level and pattern of domestic demand, in export markets being targeted, in availability of and access to capital, and in the type of support services available.
The focus in the foreseeable future is on exports as the driver of growth, including the attraction of visitors to boost our tourism revenue and help develop and diversify the range of products and services we offer.