Two Mayo companies, Big Red Barn and Ezewarm, have made important breakthroughs in the US market with the announcement of developments with the city of Warwick in Rhode Island.
Big Red Barn, which has recently relocated from Ballyhaunis to Swinford, is a manufacturer of modular structures and has entered into a public private partnership with the City of Warwick Housing Authority which will fund a pilot building on a site in Warwick.
The company will supply a modular home for a low-income family and it is anticipated that the pilot has the potential to demonstrate that the structure is a cost-effective way to bring additional housing to the city.
Ezewarm has made significant progress on talks to install an underground heating mat on bus stops in Rhode Island. With power potentially coming from a small solar grid, Ezewarm’s product has real potential to make bus stops more accessible in periods of poor weather. The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority has plans to upgrade some 600 stops throughout the State in the next two years.
These US breakthroughs have come about through the Ireland West International Trade Centre, based in Providence, Rhode Island, which is a collaborative partnership with the aim of developing a soft-landing platform in the US for companies, businesses, and entrepreneurs based in the west and northwest of Ireland.
Providence is located less than an hour from central Boston, three hours from New York and within range of significant other centres of population in the New England area, and offers businesses interested in expanding into the US market assistance with training and advice; a “match-making” facility to create introductions with interested US parties as well as providing a physical presence of meeting rooms and office space at the centre itself.
At a local level here in the west and northwest of Ireland, the project is driven by the respective heads of enterprise in the counties Mayo, Clare, Roscommon, and Sligo. John Magee, head of enterprise at Local Enterprise Office Mayo, stated this week that the recent progress “is a testament to the determination of the participating companies."
"Both Donal Byrne [Big Red Barn] and Brian Hopkins [Ezewarm] have been committed to accessing the US market and we’re delighted that the Trade Centre project have been instrumental in helping them to do that. There are a number of other Mayo companies also working hard through the centre in Providence and I am confident that they too will have success.”
Much of the recent progress has come about following the hosting of a trade delegation from Rhode Island that visited Ireland in September 2017. A sub-group of that delegation, led by Scott Avedesian, the mayor of Warwick, visited Mayo. The relationships that were developed then are now starting to bear fruit. Mayor Avedesian has been a huge supporter of the developing trade links between the west of Ireland and Rhode Island and pointed out, “to have our first discussions in September and have it taking place so quickly is pretty amazing.”
Donal Byrne said the announcement was “very positive, and we hope this will be the start of great things to come. We love Rhode Island and the people and the positive can-do attitude of Mayor Avedesian and his colleagues.”
Brian Hopkins of Ezewarm stated: “Ezewarm product technology and the pro-business approach in Rhode Island have resulted in an exciting project for us. We look forward to continuing our work with the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority and Mayor Avedesian’s office to further grow our business in Rhode Island and into other states.”