Region’s unemployment blackspots must be addressed

Professor Vincent Cunnane

The paradox of being the fastest growing region in the country and yet one with almost one-third of the country’s unemployment blackspots must be resolved if the Limerick region is to become a truly great one, President of LIT Dr. Vincent Cunnane has stated.

Addressing a recent business breakfast to launch the Limerick Chamber Regional Business Awards at the Castletroy Park hotel, Dr Cunnane said  that while the region is scoring brilliantly in terms of FDI job announcements outside of Dublin, the impact is not being felt everywhere.

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“We are leading the country in terms of FDI job announcements and Enterprise Ireland activity outside of Dublin. But the job isn’t done now, we need to do more.

“We need to be conscious of the challenges that still exist. We cannot be complacent in anyway. The recent vote on the Northern Distributor Road is evidence of this region future proofing itself and that’s absolutely needed.

“These recent successes have been made possible by everyone pulling together; a unique regional response to adversity. But just to say that we haven’t brought everyone together on that journey.

“The reality is there is a cohort of people who have been left behind in this region. The CSO last week published a list of employment blackspots around the country.  There are 17 of these blackspots in Limerick City alone and 23 in the Mid-West region; that’s 23 out of 79 blackspots. So we are closer to one-in-three of the blackspots being in this region.

“By the same token, at a wonderful event the week before last, Northern Trust announced 400 jobs. We were told that there were 17 IDA job announcements in Limerick and the Mid-West over the last two years.

“There you have the paradox of where we are at in Limerick; 17 FDI announcements in the last two years, outperforming the rest of the country and 17 unemployment blackspots underperforming the rest of the country in terms of employment.

“So if we are going to become a truly great region we need to tackle this paradox. Working together has been the catalyst for recovery so far but as we see from those figures, the journey is far from complete.”

Dr. Cunnane, however, said that the structures are in place to ensure the upswing is there for all to benefit from.  “The conditions are present for Limerick to find that sustainable growth path. For example, we have a single authority which is central to driving economic activity in this region. In fact we have the potential to get into a trajectory that gets us ahead of the cities that compete with us on a daily basis and the Limerick Twenty Thirty initiative is one such driver.

“So the bottom line is that all of us working together will put the region on a sustainable growth path and we will take as many people as we can with us.

“It also means that indigenous businesses, FDI, education providers like ourselves, infrastructure providers like Shannon Airport and Shannon Foynes Port Company must be aligned in the one direction.”

Now in their seventh year, the Awards celebrate business success across all sectors and scales, from SME’s right up to multinationals.  They are open to all businesses – not just Chamber members – in Limerick, Clare, Tipperary, North Cork and North Kerry.

Two new categories have been added to the awards this year – ‘The Best Innovation (RD&I) of the Year Award’ and ‘Best Employer: Talent, Development & Workplace Wellness of the Year Award’, making it 14 categories in total for businesses to enter.

The 13 Categories for the 2017 Awards are:

  • Innovative Start-up of the Year, sponsored by LIT
  • Best SME the Year, sponsored by Bank of Ireland
  • Large Business of the Year, sponsored by HOMS Solicitors
  • CSR Best Contribution to the Community, sponsored by Deloitte
  • Best Community & Voluntary Sector Organisation, sponsored by Limerick City and County Council
  • Best Family Business, sponsored by AIB
  • Best Retail or Food Service, sponsored by BDO
  • Best Culture, Hospitality & Tourism, sponsored by Northern Trust
  • Best Business Services Provider, sponsored by Action Point
  • Best Innovation (RD&I) Award, sponsored by Innovate Limerick
  • Best Employer: Talent Development & Workplace Wellness, sponsored by Vhi
  • The Limerick Chamber Regional Business of the Year (chosen from the Winners of the above Categories), sponsored by LIT
  • Limerick Chamber President’s Award, as chosen by Limerick Chamber President

The closing date for entries is Monday 24th September 2017.  Companies interested in entering the awards should visit The judging panel is drawn from the senior management teams of sponsors along with members of the Limerick Chamber board.

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