August 1: Formulating a ‘modern city’ with industry

NEWS this week that one of the world’s fastest growing - and most recognisable - companies has elected to open a new centre of excellence in the city centre has helped to reinforce the notion of Limerick’s Renaissance.

NEWS this week that one of the world’s fastest growing - and most recognisable - companies has elected to open a new centre of excellence in the city centre has helped to reinforce the notion of Limerick’s Renaissance.

Uber, the online taxi service, will create 300 jobs in the city in time, the biggest such announcement for the urban area in a generation. Limerick beat off competition from other cities both at home and abroad for many reasons, but a new, burgeoning confidence and joined up thinking between local and national authorities, is certainly among them.

The strength of third level education in the area is a huge factor - almost two thirds of graduates from which have historically been forced to leave Limerick for employment. Far less now, we hope.

A low cost base helps - but a key factor has to be the ever growing Shannon Airport, positioning Limerick as a gateway to America and Europe. A stronger Shannon means a stronger region, in essence.

The significance of the Uber announcement this week is the location of the jobs in the city, on Thomas Street, with Starbucks likely to anchor the unit they have chosen, something finance minister Michael Noonan said this week meant an endorsement as a “modern city”.

City of Culture played a role too in showing Limerick to be a culturally thriving place, with endearing qualities on offer for employers looking to locate here. All prospective business leaders look at cultural activity, sporting facilities and educational strength as well as the bottom line and economic reasons for reasons to relocate, and Limerick can now compete with the very best. There is now a diverse offering for companies looking to set up here in the future.

The Uber decision follows those in recent weeks and months made by Dell - 100 jobs - Viagogo - plans to double its workforce here - Vistakon - a further €100m investment in its plant - and Analog, which has also invested heavily in its facility in Raheen.

More announcements are expected in due course for both the city and wider region, while the Limerick 2030 plan has got a major shot in the arm with the Uber decision and the plans for the ‘Opera Centre’ site, which are moving ahead with pace.