Understanding the current difficult climate for business, Galway Chamber this year decided to reduce its membership subscriptions by five per cent and it has been to the fore in lobbying for all matters of interest to its members.
The Galway Chamber Traffic and Transportation Forum moved apace this year with a major initiative called ‘Bus it, Bike it, Walk it’ launched to coincide with the return to school in September. The initiative included a media awareness and poster campaign aimed at encouraging schoolchildren and their parents to choose alternative modes of transport to the car wherever possible.
It continued to lobby as part of the inter-agency group on two specific priorities; the Galway City Outer Bypass (GCOB ) and the N18 Road to Shannon/Limerick The bodies involved in this Task Force include IBEC West Region, the Irish Hotels Federation West Region, the American Chambers of Commerce West Region and the Information Technology Association of Galway (ITAG ). It welcomes the opening of the N6 Ballinasloe/Galway but it is still its belief that this is not complete without the Galway City Outer Bypass and it will continue to be on its lobbying agenda.
It had had a busy and productive year working on behalf of its members — Last year Galway Chamber kicked off the Christmas Season with its ‘Sp€nd Christmas in Galway’ Campaign mindful of the fact that each penny spent here contributed to local jobs. The website www.shopgalway.com was upgraded and developed and continued to be marketed aggressively during the year.
Conscious of its members’ needs for marketing and networking opportunities its Business After Hours was popular and were hosted during the year by Galway Airport for its Spring Reception, the Westwood House Hotel, Hotel Meyrick on St. Patrick’s Day, Irish Time Design, the Harbour Hotel, FÁS, Connacht Rugby and Browne Thomas (with Cases Wine Warehouse and Hotel Meyrick ).
In January Galway Chamber was part of a delegation to Stirling, Scotland at the invitation of Provost of Stirling Councillor Fergus Wood. The visit established links between Galway and Stirling City and County Councils, Galway Chamber and Business, tourism, agriculture, education and policing in both Galway and Stirling. It is hoped that in 2010 a Stirling Schools Pipe Band will accompany the Provost to the St Patrick’s Day Parade in Galway.
When it came to big events this year in Galway, the prize had to go to the Volvo Ocean Race Stopover in June. Galway Chamber was involved in the overall advisory group and it encouraged its members to take part in every way they could. President Paul Shelly represented it at the stopovers in both Alicante and in Boston and it even took the unprecedented (we believe! ) step of actually having a Council meeting on board the Green Dragon at Galway Docks. The event was a wonderful example of what Galway can do on the world stage and in the late May/early June sunshine Galway was justifiably proud.
Its 2009 series of business lunches began in January with guest speaker Richard Bruton TD in the Hotel Meyrick. The Chamber hosted Professor Niamh Brennan, Michael McCormack Professor of Management in UCD in the Radisson Blu, sponsored by H~C Financial Services and in June on the first day of the Volvo stopover Dragon’s Den Bobby Kerr address a crowd of over 240 in the corporate hospitality tent at the race village. In September Peninsula sponsored a seminar to address challenges faced by business and in November KPMG gave a seminar on R&D tax credits.
Also in June Galway Chamber held its Business Awards 2009 in association with Vhi Healthcare, presented at the Galway Chamber President’s Dinner in the Galway Bay Hotel.The overall winner of the Galway Chamber Business Award 2009 in association with its main Sponsors Vhi Healthcare was Lynx Transport and Logistics, a very worthy and well deserved winner.
This was, of course, a year of local elections when we lobbied each political candidate on the business case. We issued each one with a document and a foreword by President Paul Shelly: ‘In the Local Elections of 2004 Galway Chamber, as a result of an in-depth consultative process with members, sent an election manifesto to the candidates. The issues have not changed and in most cases progress is minimal.
The Board of Galway Chamber voted to support the Lisbon Treaty at its July meeting and played a full part in the campaign in the run up to ballot day as well as distribution material on the matter to members. Also distributed to members were details on any ‘Flu Pandemic’ with checklists and advice on business continuity planning in the eventuality of a national influenza pandemic. Members were also alerted to the fact that in August, Galway Chamber was the first Chamber to go live with its own news service on its website. This news bulletin informs its members and wider business community of its lobbying issues on an ongoing basis.
Galway Chamber has continued to provide training opportunities to local businesses with the support of Chamber Business School FAS funding. 45 participants completed training in Masterful Selling, Time Management, How to Get Paid and Marketing.
This EU backed Business Support unit within Galway Chamber, the Enterprise Europe Network has been extremely active in assisting a number of local enterprises identify new business opportunities in overseas markets including the participation of 8 local businesses in the Cross Border initiative with Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, Network and Getwork. In addition, the centre organised a week long series of workshops for businesses to coincide with SME Week 2009. Each workshop was delivered by a chamber member company and focussed on themes of importance to small business such as sourcing funding for business, health and safety, online marketing, governance and regulation. The centre also met with a number of representatives from the foreign embassies in Ireland and facilitated meetings between local businesses and the commercial advisors for the embassies.
The Ambassadors for Female Entrepreneurship in partnership with Dublin and Cork Chambers was also launched. The Ambassadors are role models for other females and aim to encourage more women to consider starting their own business. Three Galway business women have been appointed to the panel of 10. These include: Audrey Kinahan - University Late Night Pharmacy, Judy Greene - Judy Greene Pottery and Liz Cassidy - Irish Time Design.
The Galway Chamber Team are Michael Coyle, Maeve Joyce, Mary Murphy, Carol Brady, and Elaine Murphy.