Capital Limerick: Pat Cox, Jim Power, Niamh Briggs, Clair Hayes, Cathy Halloran, Paul Quigley and Joe Little Picture: Sean Curtin
A MEETING of high profile Limerick business people in Dublin has heard that the region has "an opportunity to create an environment where people want to live and work, and where employers want to create jobs".
Capital Limerick, a voluntary organisation established last year to create an influential and co-ordinated presence in Dublin to advocate for Limerick, hosted an event this Friday debating the theme Unlocking Regional Growth.
The group welcomed over 250 mostly Dublin-based Limerick professionals and business people to the at the InterContinental Hotel, Ballsbridge to hear a discussion economic opportunities and challenges for Limerick and the Mid-West in the post-Brexit world.
Attending were former President of the European Parliament, Pat Cox, economist Jim Power and NewsWhip CEO, Paul Quigley, RTE Correspondents Joe Little and Cathy Halloran - who chaired the event.
Mr Cox highlighted several advantages of the region when compared with the pressures “inside the M50” and said that the net impact of Brexit on the Irish economy would be negative, with the most vulnerable sector being agriculture and food, and the most vulnerable firms those heavily dependent on the UK as an export market, especially SMEs.
Citing financial services as the likely most positive flow from Brexit, he said that “Limerick can offer accessibility through Shannon, availability of top class office space, affordability in housing compared to inside the M50, a wide variety of cultural, sporting and leisure opportunities and a feedstock of skills from its higher education establishments”.
Economist Jim Power said that, with congestion becoming a major issue in Dublin, Limerick and the Mid-West had an opportunity to create an environment where people want to live and work, and where employers want to create jobs.
“I believe that Limerick ticks many of the necessary boxes, particularly the strong third level education offering and the international air connectivity," he said.
"A motorway from Limerick to Cork is the most glaring deficiency. Limerick has made massive progress over the past decade and the decade ahead promises much more. Limerick can become the engine of a vibrant city region, provided policy continues to move ahead on its current trajectory," he explained.
Joe Little, who hails from Limerick, paid tribute to the fantastic moral and material support that the people of Limerick, especially the communities of Janesboro and Southhill, had given to Tracey Corbett and her husband, David Lynch, in the traumatic period following the murder of her brother Jason in North Carolina.
Mid-West correspondent Cathy Halloran outlined what she saw as the advantages for people who wanted to live in Limerick.
“It has employment, it is still possible to afford to buy a good home - but that is changing rapidly - it has good schools, a good road infrastructure, and good amenities all around it, and it has an unrivalled reputation for sport, both as a sportsperson and a sports fan,” she outlined.
Capital Limerick is the brainchild of solicitor Clair Hayes, who said that there was a "golden opportunity" to unlock regional growth in Ireland.
"Capital Limerick is about mobilising those amongst us to play a part in promoting growth in the Mid West. We would like anyone with an interest in, or connection to, the Mid-West to get involved in the movement to promote business in the region," she said.
The proceeds from the lunch, which was sponsored by Limerick Chamber of Commerce, FRS Recruitment, Shannon Group, Cushman & Wakefield Sherry Fitzgerald and Matheson solicitors, will be invested in worthy community and charitable programmes in in the Mid-West.
The group said that €5,000 raised from last November's inaugural Capital Limerick lunch in Dublin was donated to two charities in Limerick; the Redemptorist Christmas Appeal and St Vincent de Paul.