New Regional Enterprise Plan for The Midlands

New plan is first of nine Regional Enterprise Plans to drive enterprise growth in the regions

 

The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, TD, has launched the first of nine new Regional Enterprise Plans to drive job creation and support enterprise growth in the regions.

The Regional Enterprise Plan for the Midlands identifies seven Strategic Objectives that build on the region’s strengths and address vulnerabilities that range from leveraging big data opportunities through the iLOFAR telescope at Birr, to ensuring that the Midlands is well positioned to address the challenges and new business opportunities presented by decarbonisation of the economy.

Speaking at the Mountmellick Development Association, which was a recent successful applicant under her Department’s Regional Enterprise Development Fund, the Minister said:

“The collaboration in evidence here in Mountmellick is a great example of what these new Regional Enterprise Plans are fundamentally about. The Regional Enterprise Plan for the Midlands that I am launching today sets out a number of key strategic areas where regional stakeholders working together will provide a basis for future enterprise development and job creation that is sustainable in the longer term.”

“I am pleased to note that jobs growth has been strong in all regions, including the Midlands. There are 19,100 more people at work in the Midlands today than at the beginning of 2015, when the Government first launched regional jobs plans, and the unemployment rate has reduced from almost 15% down to just over 7%.”

The Minister added: “It is clear that there are new challenges emerging for enterprises in the external environment, and here in the Midlands, the regional economy will undergo some adjustment as it makes the transition to a low carbon reality. Through this Regional Enterprise Plan, the region can adopt a leadership position through driving initiatives from the ground-up.

“As part of Project Ireland 2040, the Government has introduced a range of new funding streams such as the €1billion Rural Regeneration Fund, the €2bn Urban Development Fund, the €500m Climate Action Fund and the €500m Disruptive Technologies Fund. These are in addition to other existing schemes such as my Department’s Regional Enterprise Development Fund and the Town and Village Renewal Scheme.

“Given the wide range of stakeholders involved, the Midlands Regional Enterprise Steering Committee is ideally placed to come up with innovative, collaborative projects of scale which can deliver real economic benefits for this region.” 

Brexit

Strengthening our regional enterprises is particularly important in the context of Brexit.

“Over the coming weeks, my Department will continue to highlight the key issues that businesses need to be aware of in the run up to Brexit, and the Government supports that are available to them to mitigate its impacts”, the Minister said.

The new plans complement and add value to the ongoing work of the Enterprise Agencies, LEOs, Regional Skills Fora, and other bodies involved in supporting enterprise development in the regional setting. The development of the Plans was overseen by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, working with regional stakeholders. Minister Humphreys will launch all nine regional plans over the coming weeks.

Minister Humphreys added:

“I want to welcome Dr. Anne Cusack, MD of Critical Healthcare who has recently assumed the role of Chair of the Regional Enterprise Plan Steering Committee for the Midlands and who will oversee the implementation of the new Plan.”

Dr. Anne Cusack, Chair, Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan said that the launch of the Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan to 2020 is the culmination of public and private sector stakeholders coming together to ensure the Midland Region is supported, funded and championed in its need to build resilience, innovation and employment in these challenging times.

“The plan is focussed on the significant opportunities within the region which along with the dynamic collaboration of the regional enterprise agencies and the Steering Committee, will ensure the best outcomes of the strategic objectives are assured.”

Ireland’s first Low Carbon Town Centre

Portlaoise has been allocated over €1m under the Urban Development Fund as part of an exciting pilot project to become Ireland’s first Low Carbon Town Centre.

Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan

The Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan contains the following Strategic Objectives and specific actions have been set out under each area:

  • Strategic Objective 1: Ensure that the Midlands is well positioned to address the challenges posed by the transition to a low carbon economy and renewable energy
  • Strategic Objective 2: Leverage opportunities in big data and data analytics from iLOFAR
  • Strategic Objective 3: Position and support the growth of the Midlands as an advanced manufacturing centre of excellence
  • Strategic Objective 4: Enhance the collective offering of the Midlands as a place to live, work and invest in
  • Strategic Objective 5: Strengthen the attractiveness of the Midlands as a destination to visit
  • Strategic Objective 6: Harness the potential of the food and beverage industry in the Midlands
  • Strategic Objective 7: Ensure the availability of skills and talent to realise the Midlands’ economic potential and address upskilling requirements

Regional Enterprise Plans

Co-ordinated by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, nine Regional Enterprise Plans have been developed for: Midlands, South-East, South-West, Mid-West, West, North-West, North-East, Mid-East and Dublin.

In developing the Regional Enterprise Plans, each individual Regional Implementation Committee was asked by Minister Humphreys to take into consideration their work to date on the original Regional Action Plans for Jobs (RAPJs), the new challenges, strengths and opportunities that the region currently faces, and to strategically elevate areas where they could support enterprise development in their region through collaborative actions.

The Regional Enterprise Plans have a strong complementary role to play in the context of Project Ireland 2040, and more specifically in the implementation of the National Planning Framework and its constituent Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies (RSESs) at NUTS 2 (Regional Assembly) level.

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