THE new economic director for the joint local authority Tom Enright has said they need to “embarrass” big name companies who leave their shop premises vacant.
Since the onset of the recession, many multi-national companies have quit the city, leaving empty units.
Now, Mr Enright says the time has come for action.
“It is sad to see wealthy companies with derelict properties that cast eyesores in the city. We need to embarrass them to make them do something with them,” he said.
He was speaking at a presentation of his goals for the city, at this week’s economic special policy committee, at the request of its chairman Cllr Diarmuid Scully.
“I am more confident we are getting investment. Fourteen foreign companies came to Limerick last year, more than Galway and Cork. The local authority has to be the lead agency to ensure a friendly atmosphere for enterprise,” he told councillors.
In a presentation, Mr Enright said there has been an overreliance on construction-related work in Limerick, with employment in this sector dropping by 61% since 2007.
He said the new local authority can influence economic development by creating a welcoming business environment, as well as developing close working relationships with the business community and third level institutions.
A “common vision” for Limerick is what is needed, he added.
Immediately, the local authority must assess the enterprise structure in the city, analyse the skills and educational resources and improve the broadband infrastructure, he added.
He said the biggest thing affecting Limerick was the perception of the city, something which needs to be changed.
But he said schemes like regeneration, the 2014 Year of Culture, and the City Council taking the lead in economic development augur well for the future.
To this end, a new enterprise office will be established in the city council offices to help those establishing new companies.
Labour councillor Joe Leddin welcomed Mr Enright’s contribution, but added that an office-based employer is required for the city.
“We have a massive property portfolio here. We need to be ready to further the foreign direct investment offering in this city,” he said.
Cllr Scully suggested a joint meeting be held between City Council and County Council.
But Cllr Michael Hourigan poured cold water on this idea.