WHILE “confident” the IDA would attract some major new firms to the city, the head of the regional jobs task force has said the real drivers of job creation would be Limerick’s small enterprises.
As details of the Limerick Chamber Mid-West Region Business Awards 2012 were announced at the Clarion Hotel, Denis Brosnan said the “real catalyst” in reducing Limerick’s high unemployment rate would be the small companies starting out with five to 10 employees rather than the multinationals which attract headlines in delivering dozens or hundreds of jobs in one go.
Now in its second year, the business awards were just the type of plaudit Denis Brosnan and the Kerry Group had attracted when starting out in the 1970s.
“I was employee number one in 1972. We started with 13 people. Worldwide today, Kerry has about 20,000 people and here in Ireland, four or five thousand. Everybody has to start somewhere; you must start small and I remember we were getting awards as the small company, the young entrepreneurs. We now need that in Limerick,” said Mr Brosnan.
He praised the initiative of the Chamber, LIT and the other award sponsors in recognising the contribution of small business.
“It is so important because while we await the IDA and perhaps the arrival of some major firms into this city, more than anything else it is the small firms, the young entrepreneurs who will create a few jobs and, out of those few jobs, let the city grow
He acknowledged that progress had been slow since he was appointed to chair the Mid-West Jobs Task Force following 1900 redundancies at Dell in 2009. But this was always going to be the case.
“I remember that a number of those in power today, be it Fine Gael or Labour, were criticising and saying ‘hurry up and do something’. Talking to the leaders of those parties at the time, I mentioned to them that nothing would happen quickly and that because the structures in Limerick were so awful that until we actually got the structures right, you would never actually change the city.”
Mr Brosnan acknowledged that the government had made significant progress in changing those structures, both in the job creation agencies and in local government.
Speaking of recent media reports that the IDA had created over 400 jobs in Limerick last year, Mr Brosnan said it also had to be acknowledged that “Limerick has had a substantial net loss and has very high unemployment”.
But Mr Brosnan said he was “delighted” to see the IDA had now become “more seriously involved” in Limerick.