Westmeath Enterprise needs the X factor

A Mullingar businessman’s suggestion for better networking for entrepreneurs has been warmly welcomed by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton.

Shaun Coyne, managing director of Skyframe Buildings, Milltownpass called for an end to Enterprise Ireland’s practice of not putting similar businesses in touch with each other because their personal details are confidential.

“I want that blown apart,” he said.

“You can’t grant aid to the lot of us but maybe like One Direction on the X Factor, we could make a group,” he said, and mentioned that one member of One Direction is from Mullingar.

Speaking at a recent jobs forum Mr Coyne said he doesn’t need financial help, but needs the help of other people who have done similar things.

Referring to success stories in the media involving mobile apps and developers “making a fortune”, he said: “I think luck was on his side. It wasn’t really help that he got. I need help,” he said, adding that he wasn’t coming to the meeting with a begging bowl.

He was the only one of more than a dozen contributors from the floor to receive a round of applause from his peers when he spoke at the Minister’s jobs forum gathering in Portlaoise on Tuesday evening, January 28.

Over 150 people listened as Minister Bruton answered questions from business leaders from the Midlands as part of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs.

Mr Coyne told the audience that he has been in business for 20 years and took to his feet after a Laois businessman spoke about his work in the bioenergy field.

The Westmeath man complimented Enterprise Ireland’s work in giving grants and support, adding that his brother is working in the bioenergy fieldand would love to meet the Laoisman.

Minister Bruton said there’s real potential for building clusters of people interested in the same field and his department will work on it.

“I think there’s something in what you’re saying, and it’s a good take-away from this event,” he said.

Dr Michael Brougham of Enterprise Ireland in Athlone said it’s a very good suggestion and agreed that business people won’t find contacts through Googling.

“You need to have this information structured in the way you think about it,” he said, adding that he has seen for himself that knowledge sharing works really well in other countries.

Mr Coyne also criticised what he called a lack of support from Westmeath County Council, and said that after hearing “such great things about Laois County Council” at the meeting, he would almost consider moving to the county.

County manager Barry Kehoe, who was also at the meeting, said he could not comment on a single contribution, but said he is happy that there are very good business supports in Westmeath, including in Westmeath County Council.

“I’m disappointed that the gentleman in question had that experience, and it’s something that we’ll talk to him about separately,” he said.

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