Office space at The Hive in Carrick-on Shannon
The rise in working remotely has brought attention to enterprise hubs but many of them have been running successfully in Leitrim for years.
In 2014 Leitrim led the way in opening The Hive and it quickly became a leading case study of hub space development in rural towns. Bringing the concept of hotdesking, shared working space, quality meeting rooms and fibre broadband to a small town was unique.
The Hive was one of the first of its kind in the country and was due to a partnership with the Leitrim County Enterprise Fund (LCEF) and the Local Enterprise Office (formerly the County Enterprise Board). Dealing with micro enterprises, on a daily basis through the County Enterprise board, it was quickly identified that access to good, affordable broadband was essential to exploit opportunities. Leitrim was the first rural county outside of the larger cities to identify the Digital Hubs concept and the benefits they can deliver. The total budget for the project was €1,500,000 with funding coming from Interreg, Enterprise Ireland, and the Leitrim County Enterprise Fund.
Before Covid-19 the Hive welcomed seven or eight groups a month on fact-finding trips seeking to establish similar facilities in their own village or town and Manager Colm Keane has become a go to for advice and support for new hubs throughout the region.
Joe Lowe, Head of Enterprise, Leitrim County Council outlines the significance of the Hive and similar facilities in the county “Before the pandemic the Hive provided dynamic workspaces to over 85 people and along with other hubs in the county it is a significant contributor in attracting employers to Leitrim. Our hubs play a significant role in economic sustainability and growth in the region.
“The growth of the indigenous sector is vital for rural areas such as Leitrim and the provision of infrastructure to allow the indigenous sector to grow is paramount. Spaces such as the enterprise hubs in Leitrim with high quality broadband, affordable flexible office space and networking opportunities can play a significant role in providing a suitable environment for small businesses to flourish.”
Plans are underway to develop Phase 2 of the Hive. Although current restrictions have paused developments for now. When complete the Hive will be able to accommodate an additional 35 people.