Connemara has beaten off stiff competition to be chosen as the location for the world’s first Local Digital Economy (LDE ) with Clifden to become a centre for excellence.
Out of 50 candidates from around the world Connemara was selected for the location of this EU project which, according to Clifden Chamber of Commerce chairman Brian Hughes, will see local businesses being given “the tools to engage more effectively in social media, to give retailers the opportunity to compete globally on-line”.
“In the run up to Christmas many retailers in west Connemara felt that they were now competing with multinational retailers selling online and that the competition had now become global as opposed to local. This is why this initiative is needed now more than ever,” said Mr Hughes, who added that this exciting initiative is being spearheaded and supported by the EU.
It is because of the extent of the socio-economic challenges faced by Connemara businesses, and its many unrealised commercial opportunities as well as the commitment of the Clifden Chamber of Commerce, that this area was chosen for the LDE which is to be implemented on March 1 this year.
In preparation for this a small group of EU officials are to arrive in Clifden on Tuesday, February 21, at 4pm for an official launch with a presentation taking place at the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel.
The Connemara LDE is to deliver a fully integrated suite of the latest digital and electronic commerce technologies, marketing and sales systems, training courses, social activity support, and student educational programmes to Connemara businesses and social organisations. The aims of the LDE include: Creating or maintaining one to 50 full time and part time jobs; ensuring that 100 per cent of local businesses have an online presence or ecommerce site; that there is 10 per cent growth in the gross revenues of LDE businesses; there is a 20 per cent reduction in revenue flows from residents to non LDE area businesses; that there is a 20 per cent increase in social and cultural group fund raising; and that between one and five LDE knowledge transfer courses a year are created.
The Connemara Local Digital Economy project will be rolled out in three phrases this year which involve a comprehensive online marketing of existing Connemara products and services, development of fixed and mobile sites for all businesses and social organisations, and aggressive local and international ecommerce campaigns. As a centre for excellence for Local Digital Economies Clifden will be tasked with sharing the lessons of the project with the next set of LDE candidates.
Mr Hughes said: “The Connemara LDE will fundamentally change the Connemara economy. Up to this we have had to rely too heavily on a 13 to 15 week tourist season. We decided, in this era of recession and austerity, that we had to find a way to use what we have better. We need to be open for business for anyone, anywhere, at any time who wants to buy Connemara products and services. That is what the Connemara Local Digital Economy will allow us to do in 2012 and beyond.”