Making the West a better place to live and work – Ibec

Ibec West Regional Executive Committee (REC) meeting with local political stakeholders in Galway.

Ibec West Regional Executive Committee (REC) meeting with local political stakeholders in Galway.

A new report recently launched by Irish business body Ibec, has provided some interesting new insights into the strengths and weaknesses of living and doing business in the west of Ireland and should prove useful for future policy planning in relation to themes such as population, housing, skills, broadband, travel / commuting, tourism, local enterprise development and local government finances.

Entitled 'Local Economic Indicators 2018, Doing Business Locally', the report is evidenced-based and compiled from publicly available data from across Galway City and County, Mayo and Roscommon.

“Ibec’s ambition is to make the West a better place to live and work. To sustain economic growth and ensure that it can be better shared across the country, the West region must offer strong quality of life and employment opportunities", commented Ibec West Regional President, Maureen Walsh.

“Regional and individual local data breakdowns provide unique economic and social insights. This allows us to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of the economy at a local level across a range of areas. We can also see how we compare to other regions and local authority areas.

“The report provides a state of play of local and regional competitiveness. We do not limit performance monitoring to areas that are in direct local control and include indicators that fall outside the remit of local government. The findings provide an important window to the performance and impact on the ground of national and regional policies. Paying ongoing attention to them will help determine the success of the National Planning Framework and other national strategies,” she said.

Some of the key findings of the Local Economic Indicators 2018 for the West include:

Galway City ranks first nationally in terms of having the highest concentration of STEM-graduates and second for the total number of third-level graduates in the labour force.

A disparity exists between counties in terms of age profile, with over half the population of Galway City under 35 while Mayo has the oldest population in the country, with an average age of 40.2 years.

Commuting times across the region are favourable but congestion remains a concern in Galway where workers spend an average of 44 hours every year stuck in traffic.

The West has the shortest average travel time to a regional airport (Mayo ranks in third place and Galway County in fifth ), and all local authorities within the region have travel times below the national average. Accessibility to ports and airports for high quality international connectivity is deemed a priority.

Broadband is a concern for households and businesses in the region. The West ranks lowest of all regions for broadband accessibility. Half of the region’s premises cannot access high speed broadband, with Roscommon third in terms of dependency on the National Broadband Plan.

Galway is first for IDA jobs as a share of the labour force in the country and Mayo ranks eighth, demonstrating the ongoing investment by multinationals in the region.

Developing small businesses and entrepreneurship is strongest in Roscommon. The county is eighth in terms of employment by the Local Enterprise Office, as a share of the labour force.

The West has the highest overseas tourism spend per capita in the country. Of the 26 counties, Galway achieves the highest revenue from international visitors, with a spend of more than twice the national average.

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