The well attended Manorhamilton Business Forum promoted Business and Innovation Show on Thursday afternoon in the Bee Park Community Centre was an outstanding success.
Joe McHugh TD Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs and the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources with Special Responsibility for Gaeltacht Affairs and Natural Resources attended the Business and Innovation Show.
Speaking at the event Leitrim County Council CEO Frank Curran outlined a number of initiatives that the Council and other associated agencies were working on to assist the expansion of business and employment in the Manorhamilton Area in the future.
Mr. Curran also indicated that the upgrading of broadband services nationally in urban areas by the end of 2017 would be an important development for businesses and job creation, etc., in Manorhamilton.
Kinlough native and keynote speaker, former IDA Managing Director, Padraic White, in a wide ranging address, entitled “Re-Imaging the Economic Future of the Manorhamilton Area” pointed out a number of positive signs for the future with regard to the development of business enterprises as well as tourism industry growth in the Manorhamilton area.
Addressing the issue of Irish population density he reminded all that 4 million people lived in the country’s eastern corridor while the remainder of the population resided in the rest of the country, which would have a major impact on future economic development.
Mr. White said something needs to be done for the less densely populated part of Ireland. He praised the recent Glens to the Sea initiative that was attempting to address this issue in the North Leitrim/North Sligo area.
Padraic White explained that Manorhamilton was in the centre of an important diamond area of economic activity that ran from Sligo to Carrick-on-Shannon to Enniskillen.
It was also 22 kilometres from the Wild Atlantic Way which will be very important for tourism growth going forward and the benefits that will accrue from it.
It is important that this potential is developed. Mr. White pointed out that Manorhamilton had a population of 1,300 with 1,000 workers earning a living in the town each week.
He said it would be important in the immediate future to encourage the town’s current exporting industries to expand. The Kinlough man believes that the North Leitrim town has an “exciting potential for new start-ups” in digital and information technology businesses.
High speed broadband will be of key importance in this area. It will be crucial also for Manorhamilton to establish strong links with Sligo Institute of Technology in order to advance start-ups in new digital and information technology businesses.
Padraic White stated that the Manorhamilton Area had many tourist attractions that should be developed citing as examples the Wild Atlantic Way, the Leitrim Recreation Forum plans and the North Leitrim Greenway.
More needs to be done Padraic contends to make Manorhamilton attractive going forward noting in this regard the North Leitrim town had sports facilities, gastric pubs, the Bee Park Community Centre, the Glens Centre and restaurants. He believes a gourmet restaurant should be set up in the area as a further attraction.
Mr. White recommended the provision in the Manorhamilton area of quality housing that will be a key factor in attracting dynamic people, with regeneration ideas as well as the economic know how to further these ideas, to come and live in the area.
He mentioned local man Davin Ferguson in this regard as being a person that has come back to live in the area and was now a key member of the Collins McNicholas Recruitment Company in Sligo.
There were 25 trade stands covering local businesses, the banks and Government Agencies, where job offers, advice and business support opportunities was dispensed at Thursday’s Business and Innovation Show.
Speaking at the conclusion of the Show, Manorhamilton Business Forum Chairperson Philip Rooney promised “in the next few months there will be a lot done in North Leitrim” to progress the some of ideas that had been put forward earlier that afternoon.