Western Region companies with job vacancies invited to exhibit at LookWest.ie Expo

The Western Development Commission (WDC) is inviting companies based in the Western Region with current and future job vacancies to exhibit at its LookWest.ie Expo on Thursday 18th September in Dublin. The Expo will be attended by people who want to live, work and set up business in the seven counties of the Western Region.

Since the LookWest.ie campaign was launched in 2004, over 350,000 people have visited the website www.lookwest.ie to find out more about moving West. The website attracts an average of over 10,000 visits each month. There has seen a 25% increase in visits in 2008, with more than 78,000 people logging on so far this year and 18,907 site visits in June alone.

According to WDC Development Manager Ian Brannigan “Over 3,000 people have registered their skills on LookWest.ie, many of whom are highly educated with several years experience and skills in sectors including IT, finance, services, engineering and sales and marketing. The Expo is a great opportunity for employers in the region to meet face to face with people who want to live and work in the West and who are looking for job opportunities here, now or in the near future”

Mr. Brannigan continued “Our research shows that there are a significant number of jobs available in the Western Region. In spite of the current climate, many companies still have vacancies to fill and while it’s clear that some sectors are feeling the pinch, other industries such as life sciences, engineering, financial services and IT are looking for skilled, experienced staff. “.

“Many people who are interested in moving to the region are familiar with LookWest.ie and the Expo will be widely advertised and promoted. Our research carried out last year showed that 9% of people in the Greater Dublin Area have a high level of interest in living and working in the West. This represents potentially more than 170,000 people who are key targets for Western companies who are recruiting,” Mr Brannigan said.

The Expo will also cater for those keen to expand or establish their own business in the West, with key information about supports and opportunities for doing business in the Region.

Companies who are interested in presenting their jobs at the September Expo are invited to contact the WDC at 094 986 1441 or by email at lookwest@wdc.ie.

Ends

For further information please contact:

Ian Brannigan, Development Manager, Western Development Commission 086 604 8012.

Cuireadh ag cuideachtaí an Iarthair folúntais a fhógairt ag Taispeántas LookWest.ie

Tá cuireadh á thabhairt ag Coimisiún Forbartha an Iarthair do chuideachtaí an Iarthair a bhfuil folúntais acu faoi láthair nó a mbeidh folúntais acu amach anseo seastán a fháil ag an Taispeántas LookWest.ie Déardaoin, an 18 Meán Fómhair i mBaile Átha Cliath. Beidh daoine ar mian leo cónaí, oibriú nó gnó a bhunú i seacht gcontae an Iarthair ag freastal ar an Taispeántas.

Ó seoladh feachtas LookWest.ie in 2004, thug breis agus 350,000 duine cuairt ar an láithreán www.lookwest.ie chun eolas a fháil faoi bhogadh chuig an Iarthar. Tugann 10,000 duine sa mhí cuairt ar an láithreán, ar an meán. Tá méadú 25% tagtha ar líon na gcuairteoirí in 2008. Thug breis agus 78,000 duine cuairt ar an láithreán go dtí seo i mbliana agus 18,907 duine i mí an Mheithimh as féin.

Dúirt Bainisteoir Forbartha an Choimisiúin Ian Brannigan “Chláraigh breis agus 3,000 duine a gcuid scileanna ar LookWest.ie, tá go leor díobh seo oilte agus antaithí acu in earnálacha cosúil le IT, airgeadas, seirbhísí, innealtóireacht agus díolachán agus margaíocht. Is iontach an deis an Taispeántas d’fhostóirí sa réigiún casadh le daoine ar mian leo cónaí agus oibriú san Iarthar agus a mbeadh suim acu i bpost anseo anois nó amach anseo.”

Dúirt an tUasal Brannigan “Léiríonn taighde atá déanta againn go bhfuil líon maith post le fáil san Iarthar. D’ainneoin a bhfuil ag tarlú sa gheilleagar faoi láthair, tá folúntais ag go leor cuideachtaí agus cé go bhfuil sé soiléir go bhfuil an geilleagar ag cur isteach ar earnálacha áirithe, tá tionscail cosúil leis na heolaíochtaí beatha, innealtóireacht, seirbhísí airgeadais agus IT ag cuardach foireann oilte a bhfuil taithí acu. ”

“Tá cur amach ag go leor daoine a mbeadh suim acu bogadh go dtí an tIarthar ar LookWest.ie agus déanfar go leor poiblíochta ar an Taispeántas. Léirigh taighde anuraidh go bhfuil ansuim ag 9% de na daoine i gceantar Bhaile Átha Cliath cónaí agus oibriú san Iarthar. Sin suas le 170,000 duine a mbeadh suim ag cuideachtaí an Iarthair iad a fhostú,” a dúirt an tUasal Brannigan.

Díreoidh an Taispeántas chomh maith ar dhaoine ar mian leo a ngnó a mhéadú nó gnó a bhunú san Iarthar. Tabharfar eolas faoi thacaíocht agus deiseanna atá ar fáil do ghnó sa Réigiún.

Iarrtar ar chuideachtaí ar mian leo poist a fhógairt ag an Taispeántas i Meán Fómhair teagmháil a dhéanamh leis an gCoimisiún ar 094 986 1441 nó ríomhphost a sheoladh chuig lookwest@wdc.ie.

40% of Country’s Renewable Wind Energy Capacity in Western Region

“Grid 25 plans will help drive balanced regional development” -WDC

Mayo industries major beneficiaries of €1 billion plus investment

The Western Development Commission (WDC), the body charged with promoting the development of the Western Region, warmly welcomes Eirgrid’s Grid 25 plan with its major emphasis on balanced regional development.

Commenting on Grid 25, Gillian Buckley, WDC Chief Executive, said, “For the last five years the WDC has been emphasising one of the major assets of the region which is wind energy. According to the Eirgrid plan, the Western Region has about 40% of the entire country’s renewable capacity, making it a key natural resource for the region that can be exploited for the benefit of the people and businesses of the area. It may be fair to say that wind and ocean energy are the Western Region’s own clean sustainable oilfields.

“Grid 25 involves an investment of over €1bn in the western counties’ infrastructure in the period up to 2025 -over a quarter of the total investment by Eirgrid. We have pointed out in a number of our research reports the inadequacy of the existing transmission system both to serve existing needs and to deliver power generated from renewables. This new plan will fundamentally change this situation as it promises major investment to connect power from renewable energy (including ocean power) to the rest of the national grid. But we want to see as much of this clean, renewable ‘local power’ as possible used locally and we hope that its future availability will be highlighted by job creation agencies to attract new industries and jobs to the region, thereby helping achieve the government aim of balanced regional growth.

“The WDC has worked closely with the Mayo Industries Group and IBEC to highlight their concerns about the quality and reliability of the electricity supply in the area. This is about to be addressed in a very serious way with the county earmarked for priority investment that will mean, at a minimum, a 220KV transmission line. As well as facilitating the growth of renewable capacity, this will undoubtedly help sustain and promote industrial investment in the county.”

For further information please contact: Gillian Buckley, WDC CEO, 087 2236 982 Or Conall O Móráin, The Media Group, 087 2463 111

New figures smash old myths

Western Region is attracting the young and entrepreneurs

Anyone who thinks of the Western Region as being behind and not a thriving economy needs a reality check as this outdated view is completely at variance with research undertaken by the Western Development Commission (WDC), according to its Chief Executive, Gillian Buckley.

Commenting on the figures produced in the WDC’s latest publication, The Western Region – Key Statistics, Ms. Buckley said that this snapshot of the region finally laid to rest some of the myths about the West and added that if the Region had the appropriate level of infrastructure required for a modern economy, the region could make a further dramatic economic contribution to the country as a whole.

Ms. Buckley said, “All regions have their good points and some downsides, but this analysis shows that the West is thriving in many ways, particularly if you want to set up or expand a business. Emigration, which had been the scourge of the Western Region, has been completely reversed with the population at work in the region rising 46% in the ten years up to 2006. The Region is holding its own in the creation of knowledge sector jobs; such firms accounted for 49% of all agency assisted jobs in 2006, only just behind the national level of 52%.”

The statistics, which can be downloaded from the Western Development Commission website, www.wdc.ie, also confirm the high educational profile of young people from the region. Figures on rates of admission to higher educational institutions show that all seven western counties are well ahead of the national average of 55%. Sligo, at 72%, tops the list with Galway, Mayo and Leitrim also well above 60%.

Ms. Buckley added: “We want to attract both people and industries to locate in the Western Region and we always ‘sell’ the region on the basis of its attraction in terms of a work/life balance. One of the most striking figures in our report is how little time is spent by people in the region commuting. Over a third of the Region’s workers spend less than a quarter of an hour getting to work, well ahead of the national average and considerably more than those within the Greater Dublin region. As I said, there are downsides, and one of the more startling facts thrown up by the research is that only 2% of those in the Western Region use bus or train to get to work while the national average is four times this figure, which clearly shows the absence of adequate public transport in the region. The other big infrastructural deficit, which again the figures demonstrate starkly, is the absence of broadband. Only 13% of households in the West had broadband in 2006 against a national average of 20%.”

She concluded, “There are 60 pages of statistics on the Region in the booklet, which we hope will be useful to anyone interested in knowing more about how things really are in the Western Region today.”

WDC to highlight ecotourism opportunities at Greenbox conference

The Western Development Commission (WDC) will today outline how rural communities can tap into the potential of ecotourism when it addresses the Greenbox All Island Ecotourism Conference.

Gillian Buckley, WDC Chief Executive, will outline the WDC’s experience of developing the Greenbox, Ireland’s only ecotourism destination, and will share ideas with delegates on how communities can use the WDC Model of Rural Development to help develop ecotourism and other innovative projects in their local area.

In her address, Regional Development through Innovative Delivery, Ms Buckley will also look at the policies and practices involved in developing successful tourism products, and will present case studies of where the WDC approach has delivered for rural communities.

Ms Buckley will explain how the WDC’s Model of Rural Development works and can be adopted by local communities. The approach involves a number of stages; bringing stakeholders together; establishing trust by developing a shared framework and strategy for development; building a knowledge base through research and analysis; and producing an action plan including priorities, actions and policy recommendations. It has been published in booklet form and is available from the WDC to anyone with an interest in regional or rural development.

Ms Buckley added, “The success of the Greenbox shows how much can be achieved when public agencies work in partnership with the private sector, community organisations and each other to deliver innovative, regional projects. This collaborative approach can deliver much needed economic benefit to rural areas, increasing enterprise and contributing to balanced regional development. Moreover, regional and national tourism plans now highlight ecotourism’s opportunities and potential and this is a reflection of the Greenbox’s achievements. It shows that a collaborative approach can lead to positive changes in policy.”

Sinéad Ní Mháille, Rural Development Executive at the WDC said “Tourism is very important to the West. 29% of all those employed in tourism are based in the BMW region (72,300 out

of a total of 249,338). Tourism is a major contributor to regional development, with income spent by visitors staying in the local area. Tourism benefits rural areas in particular by creating jobs in locations where other employment can sometimes be difficult to find. By nature it is a truly indigenous sector benefiting the local economy so we focus on improving on this to make it sustainable”.

Gillian Buckley said, “The idea for the Greenbox came about through our work in developing rural tourism products by making the best use of our natural resources, and thereby providing a vehicle for economic delivery to rural areas. In 2002, we worked with the local tourism industry in Leitrim and surrounding counties and the Organic Centre in Rossinver to develop the Greenbox as an integrated ecotourism destination. We consulted with people from the private, public and community sectors, and then we looked at ecotourism abroad to learn of examples where it works really well. The outcome was a framework and action plan to develop the Greenbox.

“Now the Greenbox has a network of 120 local businesses developing to the highest ecotourism standards, and the largest cluster of EU Flower approved accommodation providers on the island of Ireland. €1.4 million has been provided to tourism businesses in the Greenbox network through the capital development programme, and hundreds of tourism providers have received specialist ecotourism training. Work has also been completed on the first ecotourism label standard for tourism products which will give visitors a certified guide to ecotourism products and services,” Ms Buckley concluded.

The Western Development Commission is the lead sponsor of the conference which takes place at The Share Centre, Lisnaskea, Fermanagh on Wednesday 30th January.

Ends

For further information please contact:

Gillian Buckley (087 223 6985) / Sinead Ní Mhaille (086 856 5802) / Ian Brannigan (086 604 8012) WDC, or Angela Bane, Bane Mullarkey, 087 286 5217

Reducing the Western Region’s CO2 emissions could save the Government €7 million annually in carbon credits

Western Development Commission sets targets for the region’s wood energy sector

The Western Development Commission (WDC) has established that wood fuel has the potential to heat the region’s 900 primary schools by 2020 if its new report, Wood Energy Strategy and Action Plan, is implemented. The report estimates that by 2020 using wood to produce heat could be worth €15 million, create up to 900 jobs and provide €1.7 million each year to the West’s farming sector.

Increased use of wood fuel could also see a reduction in the Region’s carbon footprint by cutting 600,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per annum; a saving of nearly €7 million for the country by reducing the number of carbon credits needed to meet our Kyoto commitment.

Speaking at the start of European Sustainable Energy Week, Gillian Buckley said, “The wood energy market in Ireland is relatively underdeveloped compared to international levels. However the Western Region has a huge opportunity to exploit this renewable resource as we have 40% of Ireland’s wood resources in our region. If this report is implemented, the West could develop an indigenous, sustainable, renewable energy resource delivering 11% of the regions’ heat needs. A particularly interesting aspect, of reaching this target, is the economic impact, and the fact that wood could provide €1.7 million each year to the regions’ farmers and create up to 900 jobs in the rural economy.”

The report was commissioned as part of the WDC’s work to develop the renewable energy sector in the Western Region, and focuses on tapping into the demand from commercial and industrial heat users such as hotels, hospitals and schools.

Bernadette Phelan, the WDC’s project leader said, “The report recommends that the Western Region aims for a target of 477MW from wood energy, which would bring us in line with the 2020 national heat target for wood energy. When heat pumps and solar panels are included, then the region is well on track to exceed the 12% national target.”

“The task now is to secure funding to deliver on the three year action plan and we are working with partners to drive that forward to realise this valuable economic opportunity.

The WDC worked closely with the Regional Wood Energy Advisory Group (RWEAG) on this report and the next steps will continue on the basis of cooperation and partnership,” Ms Phelan concluded.

Members of the RWEAG include Sustainable Energy Ireland; Teagasc; LEADER Programme; Údarás na Gaeltachta; Regional Energy Agencies; Local Authorities (Donegal County Council); Sligo Institute of Technology (Department of Environmental Science); Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; Department of Communications, Energy, and Natural Resources; The Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture and Food; IFA Farm Forestry; Rural Generation Ltd; Imperative Energy LtdGreen Belt Ltd; and Balcas Timber Ltd.

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For further information please contact:

Gillian Buckley (087 223 6982) / Bernadette Phelan (086 834 0279), Western Development Commission, or Angela Bane, Bane Mullarkey, 087 286 5217.

Notes to editors on wood energy in the Western region

The potential wood fuel supply projections are based on wood produced from private sector forestry and co-products. This forestry material is available in the region as the woodlands are young. The main harvesting activity over the next 20 years will be thinning of these planted private sector forests to allow the strongest trees to flourish and provide a valuable by-product. This material is ideal for energy use as: it is low value; small in diameter and thus suitable for chipping. Its low moisture content (c. 35% moisture content) can be achieved through conventional air drying processes resulting in a quality wood chip fuel. Critically this material is additional to current market demand and could be supplied into a wood energy market without a displacement impact on the supply of wood for other markets in the region and beyond.

RED C opinion poll for the Western Development Commission

41% of people under 35 who live in East would like to move West

43% of people believe economic gap between East and West has widened in the past 5 years

RED C opinion poll for the Western Development Commission

A new opinion poll taken on behalf of the Western Development Commission (WDC), the body charged with the economic and social development of counties Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Mayo, Galway and Clare, shows that 36% of those living in the East, when asked, said they would like to live in the West, while an even higher number, 41%, of those under 35 expressed the same wish.

The poll, carried out by RED C, surveyed a representative sample of 400 people in western counties and 400 in Dublin, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow. The findings revealed that one of the main attractions of living in the Western region was ‘a superior quality of life relative to Dublin’ according to 54% of those in the East and 75% of those living in the West. The poll also shows a dramatic shift in the way Ireland works. Work practices are becoming more flexible, with 41% in West, and 43% in East saying that it is possible to work remotely in their job.

On the negative side, 42% of those in East and 46% of those in West believe the economic gap between East and West has widened in the past 5 years. This is an indication that despite high levels of investment and improvements in infrastructure, the perception remains that the West is falling behind the East.

Commenting on the findings, Gillian Buckley, CEO of the WDC, said, “These results show that a lot of people value the higher quality of life available outside the major urban areas on the East coast. This, of course, is not surprising to us who live in the West, but it underlines the importance of the Government policy of balanced regional development. The things that are holding people back from moving West is a perception that the quality of infrastructure (transport and broadband) is poorer than in the East, while a large number also believe that the type of work they seek is not available in the West.

“Around two thirds of those surveyed in the East believe that the quality and availability of transport is inferior in the West relative to Dublin and this is something that the Government can tackle immediately by ensuring the NDP commitments to the road routes, to and through, the West are delivered. The continuing upgrading of the quality and frequency of train services should mean that a large proportion of the population in the West are a maximum of three hours away from Dublin. The development of commuter rail routes within the region is also vital, as those interviewed in the east say access to public transport is an important factor in deciding where to live.”

Dr. Patricia O’Hara, Policy Manager with the WDC added, “The continuing successful rapid growth of international routes at Ireland West Airport Knock also means that any feeling of isolation on the part of industry wanting to locate in the more northern counties of the region will be dissipated. Given the congestion elsewhere, dynamic regional airports are proving more and more attractive to business and leisure travellers. Broadband continues to be the bug bear right around the country and the sooner that fast, reliable broadband is available, the sooner we’re likely to see population movements away from congested areas. With such a high number of young people willing to move, broadband provision will make it more attractive for these people to establish their own business ensuring the longterm vibrancy of the West.

“The good news is that the access issues are being tackled. The planned fourlane northsouth Atlantic Road Corridor will make an immense difference and the major East to West road routes are being upgraded. Broadband access outside of major centres remains a major issue and we need to see huge improvements so that businesses and individuals who choose to relocate to the

region are not disadvantaged. If we are to achieve balanced regional growth, which will help the Greater Dublin Area as much as those areas outside Dublin, access in all its guises must be THE priority in coming years.

Up to 70% of those asked also were of the opinion that job opportunities were poorer in the West relative to Dublin However, other work we have done in the WDC shows that there are a growing number of top level vacancies in high tech areas such as computer software, medical devices and internationally traded services. We will be raising all of these issues at a national conference on balanced regional development which the WDC will be running in late May.”

The poll was commissioned by the WDC to inform its policy making role and to help make those policies more relevant to encourage balanced regional development across the country.

Notes to editors About the poll

The RED C poll was carried out on behalf of the Western Development Commission (WDC) from the 3rd to 7th December 2007. The research was conducted via telephone among a random representative sample of 800 adults – 400 West and 400 East residents.

The WDC’s 4 strategic aims are:

  • Contribute to balanced regional development by ensuring that the Western Region maximises its full potential for economic and social development.
  • Promote the benefits of living, working and doing business in the Western Region.
  • Support the sustainable economic and social development of the rural economy.
  • Provide risk capital to businesses and community enterprises through the WDC Investment Fund

For further information please contact: Gillian Buckley, CEO, Western Development Commission, on 094 986 1441 or 087 2236982

Or Dr. Patricia O’Hara, Policy Manager, WDC, mobile: 087 686 2772 or work 094 986 1441 Or Conall O Móráin, The Media Group, 0872 463 111