THE new economic plan for Limerick should include provisions to open a conference centre, Cllr Joe Leddin has said.
Speaking at this month’s City Council meeting, the southside member believes that the city could really benefit from a big conference centre to attract business people from across the world.
“After the Burlington [hotel] in Dublin, the second biggest centre of its kind is in Killarney. There is a real opportunity to fill that gap here,” he said.
Cllr Leddin also called for regular dialogue between the chief executive of the IDA job creation agency, Barry O’Leary and the council over the economic plan - codenamed Limerick 2030.
He said: “The chief executive needs to know our vision, so he can bring IDA jobs here.”
The chairman of the economic committee, Cllr Diarmuid Scully urged his council colleagues to reserve their praise for the plan until after the consultation closes.
The economic plan is on public display at City Hall and County Hall until July 25, and suggestions from councillors and members of the public are being sought.
Cllr Scully said that in the past, members of the local authority have often welcomed plans, before criticising them a few months later.
He said on this occasion, the roles should be reversed. It is vitally important, he said, “that we complain now”.
“We only get one chance at this. Now is the time to criticise, because when we accept it, we need to ‘don the jersey’,” he told fellow members.
Cllr Scully also said that with falling rates, the retail incentive scheme, and lower cost car parking, the message should go out that Limerick is “the most attractive place to base business.”
Southside councillor Pat Kennedy said a link should be formed with the American Chamber of Commerce.
“They have their finger on the pulse of economic development. It is important to remember that investment flows both ways - Irish companies also expand to America,” he said.
Northside councillor Michael Hourigan once again called for the quick completion of the proposed €5m cinema at the former City VEC offices in Cecil Street.
He pointed out that similar projects in Galway and Dublin have provided work to more than 2,000 people in various trades.
“It is ready to go: all we need is the funding. It is the only initiative in Limerick 2030 which is ready to go,” he told the meeting.
He asked city and county manager Conn Murray what he could do to support the plan, which the City VEC has made an application for funding on.
Although Mr Murray did not respond during the meeting, Cllr Hourigan said he had been assured of his support.