Kids having fun at the popular diving spot of Newfy in Kilkee Picture: John Kelly
KILKEE Chamber of Commerce has launched an appeal for people to “invest in the future” of the seaside town.
The strategy aims to raise €100,000, which it hopes in turn to match through state and local funding opportunities.
Invest in Kilkee, which already has considerable support from the local business community, is targeting also the many Limerick holidaymakers who have homes and regularly visit the Clare resort during the summer, as well as casting the net to “people from all over the world with a connection to the town to invest in the future of Kilkee”.
The background to the appeal is that Kilkee has seen its population drop by 31% to 917 in just ten years, according to the latest Census, while it also has one of the highest unemployment rates in Clare at 26%, marking it out as one of the more disadvantaged communities in the county.
The Chamber has successfully applied for a number of grants, one of which has given it the capacity to employ a project manager two days a week. After an open competition, the job was awarded to local business owner Cillian Murphy, former chairperson of Loop Head Tourism.
The group has big ambitions and so has launched the appeal to raise €100,000 to invest in a range of both economic and social amenity projects over the course of the next five years.
Chamber president Elaine Haugh Hayes said “there are many people from Limerick, and indeed from all over the world, who have a deep connection with Kilkee. It matters to them that the town is vibrant, with public amenities they can enjoy when they are here during the summer season.
“They have invested themselves in the town and are an integral part of the community. We hope they will see the benefit of investing with us in a shared future for the town.
"If we can reach our funding target of €100,000 we should be able to leverage an extra €400,000 to €500,000 in grant aid for projects in Kilkee. This would make a significant difference to the quantity and quality of amenities available for those living and visiting the town.”
Cillian explained: "We have identified a range of state and local funding opportunities such as LEADER, Sports Capital funding or schemes such as the Town and Village Renewal Scheme that well organised community groups can avail of in the near future, and the most important thing is to be ready for them when they are announced, to have the background work done with the local authority and to have the match funding requirements in place.
"The hardest thing for most community groups is to have a war chest of available funding built up to avail of these grants when they are announced, often with very short lead in times. We are trying to get ahead of the process by launching this fund raising appeal.”
The Chamber have also identified a number of projects including a development strategy for the town under the heading “Kilkee: Live, Work, Play” that will see the focus of the town shift from just tourism development to raising awareness of the quality of life to be had and its potential as a place to live and work, they say.
A dedicated email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, has been set up for anyone who would like to get involved.