New Chamber president calls on Minister to prioritise Midlands development

Put the Midlands at the top of your list for development, is the message being sent from the new president of the Midlands Gateway Chamber to the Irish Government.

In spite of Minister Phil Hogan’s announcement last week that the National Spatial Strategy, including the Midlands Gateway, is to be scrapped, the Chamber aims to continue to put pressure on the Government to attract investment into the Midlands.

Speaking as he received his chain of office, newly elected president of the Midlands Gateway Chamber, John Humphries, said: “The Midlands Gateway - Mullingar, Athlone and Tullamore - was identified as one of nine Gateways in the country for economic development in the 2002 National Spatial Strategy.

“On February 12 Minister Phil Hogan announced that the strategy was to be scrapped. This chamber will be a constant presence reminding the Government and the Minister that the Midlands is the perfect place for development and that the Minister should make this development a priority,” said Mr Humphries.

John, who is the production manager at Technical Engineering Group in Mullingar and works in a voluntary capacity with Mullingar Chamber of Commerce, was announced as the Chamber’s new president on Wednesday evening this week.

“When I first approached Mullingar Chamber it was because I wanted to offer my skills to help the business community in the town. I serve on a number of their development committees including Marketing Mullingar and the board of Mullingar.ie,” he explained.

“With this new position, which I am honoured to hold, I intend working closely with all the chambers to focus on our strengths and focus on Mullingar, Tullamore, and Athlone working together to foster development, encourage entrepreneurship, and identify new streams of support and funding.

“I am hoping to capitalise on my existing work on business development with Mullingar Chamber to attract industry, create jobs, and help the Midlands achieve its potential. I would also want to strengthen the links between government agencies, Westmeath and Offaly County Council, voluntary bodies, and enterprise and development agencies,” said Mr Humphries.

Before working with Technical Engineering Group, John worked with Intel. Using both his life skills and experience, John came to Mullingar Chamber to offer his help with business consultancy.

John is from Paisley in Scotland and a life-long fan of St Mirren’s, although Mullingar has won him over to the joys of the GAA and he has served on the St Loman’s committee since 2001.

“Mullingar is a great town with so much going for it. There is always something going on, lots of clubs and incredible people who work hard to make a difference. The challenges being faced now by businesses in Mullingar and in Athlone and Tullamore must be faced into together. Working together, pooling resources, supporting each other, that’s the solution. That’s where we will find success.”

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