The noticeable cross sector support which local businesses are engendering within the present COVID-19 pandemic has been lauded by the Athlone Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“Athlone Chamber of Commerce and Industry are heartened by the cross sector support businesses are having for one another at this very difficult time. There is a huge importance on focusing right now. Larger businesses and corporates are assisting those seeking help in whatever way they can. The Local Enterprise Boards are also proving invaluable in the initial stages of the economic disaster that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused for small and medium sized businesses,” Mr. John McGrath, President, Athlone Chamber of Commerce and Industry, remarked.
A cohesive and coordinated approach is necessary as the local business community strives to return to economic strength following the unveiling of the planned phased COVID-19 lockdown exit.
“There is information overload at the moment and if one were to believe it money is flowing into the SME sector to assist. So far this is far from the case. The protection of the nation’s health has been the mainstay of everybody’s approach to date. However, now there is a need to have a three pronged approach with the health of the economy and social activity forming the other two.
“These need to be coordinated and approached in a meaningful and reassuring way with all stakeholders not least NPHET. Some organisations are beginning to lobby as individual organisations however the best outcome will be achieved through a cohesive and coordinated approach.
“We are delighted to be able to promote those businesses open in town through our network and significant support from two Athlone businesses – Croghan Supervalu on the Ballymahon Road and Smiths Suppervalu in Monksland. This is a true example of local supporting local,” Mr. McGrath added.
Gerry McInerney, CEO of Athlone Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has given a guarded welcome to the economic stimulus publicised over the weekend.
“Over two thirds of the funding is dependent on a new Government, or at least on the appointment of 11 Senators to the Seanad. We need a Government now, not in late June or July. Too much is at stake.
“Businesses need certainty when it comes to finances. Warehousing Tax Liability and SME Credit Guarantee Scheme need Government approval which can not be implemented without the Seanad. SME surveys highlight that most businesses have three months cash reserves at most. France and Switzerland lead the way on the liquidity front. We need to get the funds in place fast and with favourable interest rates,” Mr. McInerney commented.
“Athlone has a lot going for it given the cross sector support and success of designation in the National Development Plan. Recent projects also highlight the level of cooperation, for example the Christmas Lights and the promotion activity across sectors with respect to businesses currently in.
“Multinationals such as Medtronic, Athlone Extrusions, 3M-KCI, Ericsson and others are liaising with the Chamber to see how we can be of mutual assistance to one another at this time. The times are hard for large parts of our community. However, we are confident the foundations laid down by the business community, Athlone Chamber and Destination Athlone, over the last number of years will stand to us as we deal with the current economic challenges in what needs to be a most cohesive and collaborative way,” Mr. McGrath asserted.