Last week, the Midlands Gateway Chamber hosted over 100 business leaders from the Midlands Region, from key business and service sectors, and representatives of the three town chambers Athlone, Tullamore, and Mullingar at a workshop to seek their assistance in mapping out the best route forward for the economic development of the Midlands Gateway Region.
The workshop was chaired by Dr John Teeling, chairman and founder of Cooley Distillery, who is renowned for his distinguished and successful business career spanning over forty years across a range of sectors. The attendees analysed and assessed in a workshop format what approach Midlands business needs to adopt in respect of six key areas.
· Selling Midlands as the premier location for business in Ireland
· Building on our people capital – education, skills, innovation, and enterprise
· Funding and finance – for capital projects and to get credit flowing for business
· Exploiting our natural resources and optimising specific competencies
· Infrastructure – addressing outstanding physical and technological gaps
· Business leadership – more collaboration across business
Speaking about the workshop Seamus Sheerin, chairman of the Enterprise Sub-Committee of the Midlands Gateway Chamber, said “The workshop was a great success, with vibrant input and participation by all attendees. We brought together business leaders from all enterprise sectors across the Midlands as we wanted to take stock of the resources and potential we have in the Midlands in a positive and objective environment. The group discussed how we can create a region that displays unique competitiveness to grow indigenous and international business.”
Prior to the workshop an economic stock-take of the Midlands Gateway was provided by Michelle Mullaney, director and economic analyst Capital Securities Corporation. A perspective as to how education is working with business in the region was also given by Eoin Langan, head of accounting and business computing at AIT.
The workshop was facilitated by Dr John Teeling, chairman and founder of Cooley Distillery, who took a look at the region himself and offered his thoughts. Teeling said that the world recession was over and that the Irish recession was “just about” over. However he did comment on the massive destruction of our personal wealth and the huge distortion in our public income/expenditure. He encouraged the business leaders to play to our strengths both locally and nationally which included our location in the EU, our green image, Ireland’s good economic history and the good infrastructure in the Midlands. Dr Teeling further reinforced how we can build on our centre location and our comparative advantage versus other regions, which is down to our attitude and determination.
Dr Teeling encouraged the development of the Gateway concept, by including the Midlands diaspora and to developstart your own business courses in towns and villages, and run them one night a week from September to May. He highlighted the potential of our local resources from the Shannon, to heritage and food production, and encouraged businesses to work together like never before. The range of initiatives and proposals coming out of the workshop in respect of the above six areas were are inspiring and motivational.
This inaugural workshop proved that the business people of Athlone, Tullamore, and Mullingar can work together to secure their future in a changing economic era, according to Seamus Sheerin; “We were privileged to have so many key business people attend our workshop and having a snapshot of the results, I can say that there are some very positive outputs from it which will be prioritised for action. I look forward to engaging further with the business people in the Midlands as we work towards growing the region as a centre of excellence in the development of enterprise”.