Unveiled: plan promises ‘new era’ for Limerick city

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

A TECHNOLOGY park, a medical village, an innovation hub and an “iconic” arts and culture building are just four pieces of a major new economic plan to revitalise Limerick city centre.

A TECHNOLOGY park, a medical village, an innovation hub and an “iconic” arts and culture building are just four pieces of a major new economic plan to revitalise Limerick city centre.

And an economic forum is to be set up in a bid to attract big-name companies into the city area, it has been revealed.

Proposals are also on the table for a €1m ‘seed fund’ to incentivise small to medium sized enterprises to set up shop in the city centre area.

This Wednesday afternoon, councillors from the city and county gathered in the Strand Hotel to get a preview of the first ever economic plan for both the city and the county.

Chairman of the economic committee, Cllr Diarmuid Scully, said the plan “is far too good” to sit on a shelf, while Cllr Kevin Kiely described the report as “a new era for the city”.

Cllr Joe Leddin also welcomed the scheme.

Consultants GVA had been given €300,000 to commission a study on ways to get the local economy moving again. Despite initial criticism of the study’s cost, councillors have now emphasised the overwhelmingly positive conclusions in the plan.

Mayor Gerry McLoughlin said: “We can look forward to seeing the work of a new economic forum which is to be established to further improve the city”.

This is notable because the manager of Limerick local authorities Conn Murray set up an economic forum during his time as Louth county boss.

This was one of the factors which ultimately led to Paypal creating 1,000 jobs in Dundalk, as opposed to Limerick.

Cllr Scully added: “There are also plans to capitalise on our magnificent riverfront, and on Limerick’s unparalleled architectural heritage, including a proposal for an new iconic arts and cultural building”.

The possibility of converting the old Dunnes Stores in Sarsfield Street into a major scheme - possibly similar in nature to Belfast’s Titanic Quarter - was floated by Cllr Leddin, who also called on the consultants to look again at tourism in the city and surrounding region.

The plan will go on public display in the first week of January and will form part of the first ever city/county development plan, due to follow in the summer.