A UNIQUE business centre in the heart of the city, which trains entrepreneurs in the skills needed to run a franchise, is well on the way to delivering on its goal of 500 jobs over five years.
This Monday, the first 20 graduates from the Franchise Acceleration Start Up Training (FAST) programme left the National Franchise Centre above AIB’s main O’Connell Street branch.
Over the past year, they have been taking part in the programme, and the majority are now ready to go back into business.
The centre was set up 12 months ago by the Limerick Chamber, and the Limerick Institute of Technology.
It is the first third level franchise education centre in Europe.
At the ceremony, three prizes were given out to outstanding graduates.
First prize went to Anne Hall, a franchisee of the Zip Yard. She will get €3,000 as well as training and advisory services worth around €6,000.
Second prize went to Mark Reidy, who is franchisee to K-Mac Home Services company, based in Shannon.
Third prize went to Paddy McNulty of PC Pal which offers computer repair to home users.
They received awards worth €7,000 and €5,000 respectively.
Ms Hall aims to create five jobs in a new Zip Yard store in Portlaoise.
Asked what made the difference, Ms Hall said: “My passion for the business model I took on, my experience of working in BwG and my own determination and will power to succeed, as well as my entrepreneurial vision to be my own boss.”
Housing Minister Jan O’Sullivan said the National Franchise Centre is an example of “Limerick leading Ireland.”
“It is great to see this right in the heart of Limerick. There is a great sense of purpose. You can see they intend to succeed”.
She said up to 100 jobs have been created through the centre in the first year.
LIT president Dr Maria Hinfelaar added: “The centre is a realistic and practical approach to job creation and enterprise development.”