The Western Development Commission (WDC) outlined its future vision for the Western Region to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Arts, Sports, Tourism, Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs on Wednesday November 19th. The WDC highlighted the success of the LookWest.ie campaign which has enabled over 100 businesses and 4,000 individuals to register their interest in relocating to the region.
Ms. Buckley also outlined a vision for the Western Region’s future as:
- A region with a world class infrastructure
- A region that exploits its distinctiveness and natural advantages
- A region that maintains its sense of community, heritage and environment
- A region that encourages creativity and entrepreneurship
Identifying the original rationale for the establishment of the WDC in 1997, as the intense public pressure and concern at the long period of economic and social decline in the western counties, Ms Buckley said that despite solid the progress in the region over the last ten years, the disparity between the west and other regions continued to exist, and sustained focus on the region was required.
Ms Buckley also acknowledged the considerable challenges facing the region, particularly the vulnerability of its employment structure, and the broadband and transport deficits. However, building on the progress that has been made and on the region’s natural resources, the WDC believes that the western region offers huge potential to contribute to national growth and recovery, particularly through the exploitation of renewable energies such as wind, wave and biomass – areas on which the WDC are currently working.
Said Ms Buckley, “The challenge, now more than ever, is to continue investing in sustainable entrepreneurship in the region. To date the Western Investment Fund has invested €30.8 m in 78 enterprises in the region contributing to creating and sustaining over 1,200 jobs in the region and the Fund remains a vital source of seed capital for early stage high growth potential companies in the Western Region.”