LookWest.ie using Social Networking and Real Life Case Studies to Promote the West

The Western Development Commission (WDC) has re-launched its LookWest.ie website to include video case studies of people who have relocated or set up businesses in the Western Region. The site also utilises all the latest social networking tools to actively engage with a wider audience. The website, first launched in 2004, promotes the West as an attractive and economically-advantageous location for enterprise and is the definitive guide to living, working and doing business in Ireland’s Western Region. Lookwest.ie is aimed both at individuals and businesses in Ireland and overseas and is used by almost 20,000 visitors each month.

Joanne Grehan of the WDC said: “With the explosion in social networking we recognised an opportunity to use the latest technology to promote all the benefits of the Western Region to an online international audience. In times of economic constraint and job losses, it is more important than ever to continually communicate the benefits, innovation and creativity of Ireland’s Western Region so that we are well positioned to take advantage of economic recovery. More and more, commercial companies and organisations are using social networking to communicate with their customers in an extremely cost-effective way. LookWest.ie now communicates with audiences around the world using a number of social media channels including our monthly on-line newsletter, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, where the number of followers is growing on a daily basis. The website also offers RSS newsfeeds and features the latest in video technology via YouTube. By making the website so interactive, we can connect directly with people and highlight the advantages of living and doing business in the West.”

She added; “Our research has shown that when people or businesses are considering a location, they are heavily influenced by hearing from others who have successfully made the move. The new features on the website are a great opportunity to hear directly from people in their own words – why did they decide on the West as a location, what they see as the main advantages of locating here, what were the supports available and of course how the exceptional quality of life leads to an important work-life balance.”

The 16 featured video case studies include E&I Engineering in Donegal, who highlight the excellent quality of the Donegal workforce and say that their staff are attracted by benefits like great social amenities and no traffic congestion in the area. County Clare based Execpass.com and www.interventions.ie were set up by Adam Coleman who relocated from London and says that doing business in the West is positive in this economic climate because costs are lower thus making it easier to manage their overheads.

For county Galway based JFC Manufacturing, the West is no barrier to innovation and R&D; “We have a complete R&D facility in-house with 12 people employed to design and develop new technologies and product ranges”, said John Concannon, owner and managing director. While for another Galway company, Solaris Botanicals, who blend internationally award-winning organic teas to cater for the high-end retail and foodservice markets, the West is “a great place for artisan food producers who want to export to Europe”, said founder and director Joerg Mueller who moved to the west from Germany.

In Leitrim, Ronan Haslette left Dublin to come back and take over the management of his family business Merenda which designs and manufactures wood veneer products and also supplies specialist accessories including presentation pieces and displays. Ronan says: “I firmly believe that we would not get this team interaction and core company stability anywhere other than the West of Ireland”.

Infrastructure developments have made the West more attractive as a business location, and for Sligo company, The Cat and The Moon, broadband has been a boost to their business. “We do significant online business with our international customers and intend to make more of social media opportunities”, said Martina Gillan, a native of Sligo who set up the design studio and jewellery making business that now employs 14 people.

On the quality of life aspects, Nick Gudge in county Clare has found that the environmental advantages of living there offer benefits that he never takes for granted. Nick founded the West Coast Taijiquan Association, and now works with 25 teachers and around 450 students in the martial art of Taijiquan.

For Reg Gordon, a Galway-based photographer, the ease with which he can access the countryside to clear his mind helps him focus on being creative, while in Sligo, Justin Knecht, former Senior Manager of Design Services at Crayola in Pennsylvania and now Programme Manager at the Centre for Design Innovation at the Institute of Technology Sligo, says that the landscape and access to natural amenities are “astounding” and he loves being “beside some of the best surfing in Europe”. For Tommy Morahan who has relocated to his native Louisburgh in county Mayo from his position as lecturer in the San Francisco State University there have been several advantages for his family. “The impact on my two year old is probably the best thing about the move home; he is thriving in his new found space”, said Tommy.

Dundalk native and now resident of Boyle, Deirdre Cunningham owner of Cootehall Adventure had travelled extensively and had no previous connection with the West before she moved here to successfully set up her business which trains students to qualify for work in adventure centres and to go on to do degree courses in third level colleges.

The WDC is urging people who have a new business idea to check out the website at www.lookwest.ie to learn about the supports and resources available for entrepreneurs in the Western Region. It is also encouraging people to register their skills at http://www.lookwest.ie/skills-register so that the WDC can create a profile of the talent, qualifications and experience of the people living in the West or considering a move here. The WDC believes that such a profile will strongly contribute to attracting jobs and business to the Region. People who have an interesting story to tell about their relocation to the West or their experience of establishing a business here are also invited to share their experience by emailing info@lookwest.ie or going to http://www.lookwest.ie/case-study-application

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For further information please contact:

Joanne Grehan, Western Development Commission, 086 856 5802

or

Angela Bane, Bane Mullarkey, 087 286 5217