Representatives from the IDA and Enterprise Ireland made a presentation to Westmeath County Council on Monday concerning the Midlands region Action Plan.
The objective of the Action Plan is to establish a cohesive approach to enterprise, support, and job creation in the region on the part of the Enterprise Agencies, the Local Enterprise Office (LEO ), local authorities, the IDA, and Enterprise Ireland.
The programme’s goals are to: drive entrepreneurship and grow businesses; foster innovation; attract and embed foreign direct investment; build sectoral opportunities; enhance skills; build business networks; market the region as an alternative place to work and live; and identify strategic areas for further job creation.
The local authority will aim to utilise the business incentive scheme to increase the number of start-ups and to support existing companies to grow and improve performance. The local authority will also work to ensure the availability of workspace for entrepreneurs.
The LEO will look to increase start-ups while also supporting existing businesses through promoting access to finance and through procurement seminars. Pop-up shops, markets, and business expositions will be encouraged and supported as a means of driving entrepreneurship. To foster innovation, the LEO will look to encourage entrepreneurs to invest in innovation and design and to develop new products and processes.
The LEO will also aim to increase awareness of the resources available to businesses to support innovation. Both the local authority and the LEO will work in conjunction with one another and with the IDA to attract and embed foreign development investment in the Midlands. One of the key objectives of the plan involves increasing the number of people involved in tourism in the region.
This includes the Local Authority supporting the Destination Athlone initiative, any festivals taking place, and promoting local tourism attractions like the Dublin to Galway Greenway. The food sector has been identified as another avenue of potential exploitation in terms of job creation. The action plan also deals with enhancing skills in the region.
In this respect the Local Authority will engage with employers to identify the skill sets they require in their employees, while also conversing with providers like AIT as to the most effective means of providing those skills. The feasibility of establishing outreach facilities is also being considered. The action plan covers a three-year timeframe, 2015 to 2017, to allow for the process to take hold and develop.