More regional collaboration needed to drive balanced economic development – Chamber Presidents dinner hears

Cross-city and cross-region collaboration must be dialled up if balanced regional development is to be delivered in Ireland, one of the largest annual business gatherings outside the capital has been told.

The annual Limerick Chamber Presidents Dinner and Regional Business awards, attended by over 400 business people at the weekend, heard from outgoing chamber president Eoin Ryan that developing closer alliances across the Galway-Ennis-Limerick axis can create the critical mass to direct more investment into the regions.

This would, he said, grow the regions in line with need, reduce depopulation and ease the pressure on Dublin. 

“Most definitely we need government action and supports but there’s a lot we can do ourselves to drive balanced regional development. Collaboration is one area.  We saw the value of collaboration in the regions here across this past year. The best example was the collaboration we had with Galway, Ennis and Shannon chambers on a major report which underpinned the importance of air connectivity into airports in the region.  This was all about sending a message to government that if we grow airports in the regions, we grow the regions,” he said.

“Limerick Chamber led this but there was equal buy in from the other chambers and the outcome was compelling. We believe connectivity into the regions is on the agenda like it wasn’t before as a result and we have now seen a positive budget intervention to support airports outside of Dublin with a special route development fund.

“Aviation is critical to regional development but it is just one area where we can effect real and positive change if we collaborate. An alliance that pulls together stakeholders from Galway, Clare, Limerick, Tipperary, Kerry and, indeed, other counties in that general area is a compelling voice that has to be listened to. It will bring about change for the regions but also change that is very much in the interest of the nation. “

Dee Ryan, Limerick Chamber CEO said “The rapid economic recovery Ireland has experienced since 2013 has been most concentrated in Dublin and so we have a capital city bursting at the seams. That’s uncompetitive and should be a real concern for all of us. At the same time, on the other side of the island we have a collective region that’s hugely dynamic, with real, cutting-edge expertise and clusters but most importantly the Mid-West has the capacity for growth. Limerick Chamber believes that if stakeholders collaborate more, we will undoubtedly achieve more.”

Nine awards were presented on the night, with the Overall Business of the Year award going to US multi-national Analog Devices, which employs 1,200 people in Limerick and has been based in the city for almost 40 years.

A special annual award, the President’s Award, went to Limerick native, Dr Hugh O’Donnell, the former Kentz CEO who grew the company from 2,000 employees and $80million revenue to 24,000 employees and $2bn revenue in the 12 years before moving back to Limerick in 2012.

Said O’Donnell, who today has an involvement in 12 different companies: “It’s great to be recognized within Limerick, my home city.  I’ve been involved in lots of things internationally but to be recognised by my peers, I guess it’s probably the best you can get.

“Limerick has got so much energy, so much passion. In one sense, we’re an underdog, which gives us a competitive advantage but I think there is a real appetite within the business community to work together. It can position Limerick as a great urban, economic story.”

Said Denis Doyle, General Manager, Analog Devices, winner of Overall Business of the Year: “We are really delighted because it’s a real recognition of the time we’ve been here in Ireland. We’re a technology company but technology comes from the innovation of people and people working together to solve real-world problems. Analog is tackling some of the greatest challenges we have in society these days and all of these technologies really are developed by the ingenuity of our people so this award is very much in recognition of their incredible commitment.”

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The full list of the 2019 Limerick Chamber Regional Business Awards winners is as follows:

Best Emerging Business Contribution to the Region, sponsored by Limerick Institute of Technology and Limerick Council – Huggnote

Best SME Business Contribution to the Region, sponsored by AIB – 4Site

Best Large Business Contribution to the Region, sponsored by Holmes O’Malley Sexton – EI Electronics

Best CSR: Contribution to the Region, sponsored by Deloitte – GE Capital Aviation Services

Best Retail & Hospitality Business, sponsored by BDO – Absolute Hotel

Best Not for Profit, sponsored by Northern Trust – Limerick Autism Group

Best Employer Employee Talent Development and Workplace Wellness Award, sponsored by Limerick Chamber Skillnet – Analog Devices

Overall Business of the Year Award, sponsored by LIT, Analog Devices

2019 Limerick Chamber President’s Award:  Dr Hugh O’Donnell, Ingenium Training and Consultancy 

About the Awards

The Limerick Chamber Regional Business Awards now in its 9th year of fruition, is held annually by Limerick Chamber and Limerick Institute of technology, the awards are designed to acknowledge companies in the local region who strive for success each day. The awards are designed to recognise the hard work, commitment and innovative approach each company has showcased which has contributed to the growth of the company and in turn the region itself.

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