Atlantic Way region to forge links with Florida business

Plans to forge commercial links between the Atlantic Way region and one of the most successful business areas in the world have been announced. The Atlantic Way, a pioneering organisation comprising key-decision makers in the West, will host an important delegation from the Jacksonville/Northeast Florida business community from June 18-20.

The purpose of the visit, which includes a series of engagements in Galway, is to grow business between the two economic communities, and give impetus towards creating in the west of Ireland a globally recognised region of excellence for living, leisure, knowledge and work.

Members of the Atlantic Way include some of the largest Irish-based multinationals including Hewlett Packard, Analog Devices, Cook Group Europe, GECAS and Olympus. Among the member organisations are Local Government, including the Cross Departmental Committee, government agencies, IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Shannon Development, Mid West and West Regional Authorities, local authorities, Shannon Airport Authority, the two universities in Limerick and Galway, Limerick Institute of Technology, Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, the Chambers of Commerce, tourism centres and hotels.

The City of Jacksonville is the economic driver for the seven-county, Northeast Florida area of approximately 1.4 million residents. The region has a very diverse business sector with advanced manufacturing, aviation and aerospace, finance and insurance services, life science, and logistics and distribution as its key sectors. Jacksonville is home to Vistakon and Medtronic, well-known US companies with a significant presence in Limerick and Galway.

According to Brian O’Connell, chairperson of The Atlantic Way, the upcoming visit forms part of The Atlantic Way’s overall efforts to establish strong alliances and co-operation between both locations with the intention of creating a region of excellence for future economic and social growth here in Ireland along the Atlantic corridor”.

“We will be facilitating a series of in-depth presentations and conversations between Atlantic Way SMEs, who are seeking to expand and export to the US, and the Jacksonville delegation. We are keen to agree on a number of specific projects to kick-start the new relationships economically, and I can assure you that special emphasis will be placed on the benefits of the Atlantic Way region as a suitable location” he added.

Mr. O’Connell explained that there has been a series of visits and interactions between The Atlantic Way and key decision makers in the Jacksonville area over the past 12 months. He said: “Atlantic Way believes the Jacksonville/Northeast Florida region is a global leader in its business structure, operations and promotion for its economic community. Similar adjacent cities internationally have combined to create corridors of commercial success and technological creativity. We know we can do the same here in Ireland, with the Galway-Limerick/Shannon axis as a central corridor of the Atlantic Way, and we see the cities, the airports, the towns, villages and interconnected rural communities as the catalyst for energy, commitment and action.”

He continued: “Limerick city has a great opportunity now to master plan an exciting future for itself, breathing life back into its city centre, with that economic and social rebirth spear-headed by the implementation of the urban regeneration of the Fitzgerald Report. In addition to this, there are enormous economic and social opportunities in developing the Limerick docklands and the Shannon Estuary, both of which have great potential for trans-shipment and freight logistics internationally. Our vision is for the 1.5 million people of the Atlantic Way region to be established as a world-class region in every aspect of living, leisure and knowledge by 2020. Starting now.”

Mr. O’Connell noted that there had been a major shift internationally towards economic communities promoting their regional potential, rather than concentrating on the opportunities for individual companies. “From a financial point of view it makes perfect sense to promote all potential prospects of the economic community, at the same time and with the same budget. The Atlantic Way has also recognised that the economic aspect is no longer the sole selling point of any community, because the educational, social, health, leisure, the environment, housing, infrastructure, tourism and cultural aspects are all the other vital jig-saw pieces, that comprise each community, and they must be included,” he stated.

During their three-day trip to the region the Jacksonville/Northeast Florida delegation will visit counties Limerick, Clare and Galway. Key movers and decision-makers will be introduced to SMEs from Jacksonville, who are seeking to establish a presence in the Atlantic Way region, giving them a beachhead to European markets and beyond. Both teams will discuss collaboration in different research and development projects

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