The recently refurbished Swinford Courthouse was formally opened this week as one of the designated Digiwest Hubs, by Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys.
The Digiwest project is an example of regional collaboration where four Local Authorities, working with the Western Development Commission (WDC ) and the Department of Rural and Community Development, will be enabling and supporting communities to work in the digital economy.
The aim of the hub is to provide a resource to local entrepreneurs, workers, and communities in providing workspace with high-speed telecommunications capacity. Office spaces available include two-desk, three-desk and four-desk options. There is also the added use of a kitchenette, common room, and a small meeting room, with a larger conferencing room available.
Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Richard Finn, outlined: "The opening today marks an exciting new chapter for an historically important building. This fine Courthouse building is now remodelled as a digital hub and has been fitted out as a resource for local entrepreneurs, remote workers, and for the local community. Connectivity is the single most important piece of infrastructure for today’s society and economy and this building is provided with ultra-fast telecommunications capacity."
Chief Executive of Mayo County Council, Kevin Kelly, welcomed the formal opening, stating: "This project shows collaboration at its best, with local authorities working with regional and national bodies to drive regeneration and sustainability. I would like to acknowledge all parties that have been involved in bringing this project to fruition. It is only by working together that we can secure the future of our smaller towns, villages and communities."
Fianna Fáil TD, Dara Calleary, welcomed the opening of the Swinford Hub and other hubs around the county, saying: "The establishment of Connected Hubs is a crucial cog in the government’s Our Rural Future strategy and I am delighted to see that five have been established in Mayo, allowing people the opportunity to work remotely when that opportunity may not otherwise have been available.
"Hubs have been created in Swinford at the old Courthouse, in Knockmore/Rathduff Resource Centre, the Cairn Enterprise Centre Kiltimagh, at Gteic Blacksod and at Leeson Enterprise Centre Westport and they will greatly assist these communities to flourish and grow into the future.
"Remote working is the future – these hubs will be of enormous benefit to these rural locations offering families flexibility in terms of lifestyle and an alternative to city and urban living. I wish each of the five Mayo hubs every success in their endeavours."
Fine Gael TD, Alan Dillon, added: "The Connected Hubs Network provides the perfect opportunity for workers and employers to embrace a ‘blended working’ model, and to find the balance of hub, home and office working that works best for them. Connectedhubs.ie is a key action of Our Rural Future and will see over 100 hubs connected by the end of 2021. Already, 66 hubs across the country are on board and are accessible to remote workers via an online map. I welcome that five of these are in County Mayo.
"I would urge all existing or new hubs to become members of Connected Hubs. In addition to availing of the excellent platform and supports unveiled today, by having your details included in the National Hub Survey you can help Government to identify the scale of our nation’s remote working infrastructure. This information will help to guide and inform investment decisions in the future."