Plans for the provision of a new co-working hub in Athlone have made initial progress following the recent announcement that a sum totalling €90,000 under the Just Transition Fund will go towards an in-depth feasibility study to determine its future.
Welcoming the news, Athlone Chamber of Commerce CEO, Mr Gerry McInerney, noted that the application to the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, was the culmination of cohesive work undertaken by a number of interested parties.
“We are delighted at Athlone Chamber with the news that we have been successful in this application. The application is the culmination of months of work undertaken by a number of parties including the IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Athlone Institute of Technology, Russell Brennan Keane and industry representatives, John Mee (Sidero Ltd. ) and Paul Madden (Neueda ). The application is also supported by Westmeath County Council.
“We believe that transformative changes have already taken place in 2020 with regard to working habits, albeit driven by the needs to protect health. However, this project addresses a whole range of needs in driving the economic development of our town.
“A co-working hub can mean different things to different people. For many it would save driving long distances to work and instead operate from a shared workstation in the centre of Athlone, near home.
“Saving the environment is an important consideration also. Cutting down on long daily commutes will reduce emissions. We also know that foreign direct investment prospects have an ongoing need for co-working hubs to enable them to get started.
“The feasibility study will determine if this concept can work in Athlone and we look forward to working with our partners on this project over the coming months,” Chamber CEO, Gerry McInerney, enthused.
Meanwhile funding was also afforded to a further two two local groups under the Just Transition Fund application process.
Moore Community Council will receive financial assistance towards the proposed provision of a remote working hub and training facility at Moore Community Hall, while Baylin Development Association have been afforded relevant funding to enhance the Baylin bog trail.
The Just Transition Fund (JTF ) is a key pillar of the Government’s just transition plan for the Midlands region. A 2020 fund of €11 million will be available for projects focusing on retraining workers and proposals to generate sustainable employment in green enterprise in the region, and supporting communities to transition to a low carbon economy.
The objective of the Just Transition Fund 2020 call is to fund innovative projects that contribute to the economic, social and environmental sustainability of the Wider Midlands region and which have employment and enterprise potential. It will support projects that take a whole-of-Midlands strategic approach and complement other sources of public funding.
Provisional offers totalling €1.2 million have been made to 16 successful applicants under the 2020 Fund. The offers relate to Strand 1 applications for less than €100,000 in funding. Applications seeking more than €100,000 from the Fund are still undergoing evaluation and we expect to make provisional offers to those projects in late October.
Final offers are dependent on project applicants providing additional documentation and evidences. Projects may also undergo further review for state aid compliance. Final offers for strand 1 will be announced in the coming weeks.
Successful projects include a feasibility study to scope out the development of a renewable energy technology, examining the potential of brewing artisan beers in the Midlands region using a Bord na Móna site, extending an existing biodiversity park boardwalk, and renovating a local community hall to facilitate remote working and training.