Minister Richard Bruton At the Launch of the South Meath Chamber of Commerce with Regina Doherty TD, Cllr Brian Fitzgerald, Minister Shane McEntee and Meath county manager Tom Dowling.
The Irish are a proud people who thrive in adversity through harnessing all the strengths of a community, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation, Richard Bruton, told an audience said at the launch of the new South-East Meath Chamber of Commerce and its information pack on business opportunities in this area of the county.
The minister, along with Minister of State Shane McEntee, Deputy Regina Doherty, Meath county councillors and Meath County Manager Tom Dowling and county council officials were among the large attendance at Tattersalls, outside Ratoath, for the event, which was described as an attempt to provide hope for the 50,000 people who live in this area of Meath.
Brochures entitled 'Ireland's International Business Location', listing opportunities for business location in Dunshaughlin, Ashbourne, Ratoath, Dunboyne and Clonee, and 'A Wonderful Stage for Life' displaying the lifestyle advantages of living and working in south-east Meath have been published and will be distributed widely.
Acting chairperson Cllr Brian Fitzgerald said a small group had been working on the south-east Meath project for a long time. He said a group of people had gathered one night to ask the questions: "Why is the IDA not bringing jobs to this area? Why are so many of our young people having to emigrate? What can we do to change that?"
Cllr Fitzgerald said: "We're close to the city, we have a highly educated workforce, a natural environment and great infrastructure. We have lots of space, a business park and excellent residential facilities, so the question was asked why we were not achieving the number of jobs that we should."
He went on: "We had to do something about it so we documented our strengths and aimed our message at a target - the people who want to invest in this country and whom we could attract to this area. I believe that we can be successful because we have what people want - the location, the available sites, the environment, the community."
He thanked Liam Cahill, Dan Egan and Noel Finnerty who had helped with the project, and the county manager and county council.
County Manager Tom Dowling said the south-east area of Meath was very attractive for development. He stressed the importance of chambers of commerce in promoting business and in disseminating information to potential industrialists.
Very often, business interests took a narrow view but it was important to have a wide focus and to take a regional view.
A huge impression could be created by the appearance of our towns and villages and this was why the county council had put emphasis on the way they were presented. Meath was the most accessible county in Ireland, with city amenities on its doorstep yet with a unique advantage in excellent transport and communications facilities, he said.
Mr Bruton said he believed the chambers of commerce had huge potential in creating business, especially at a time when Ireland had to look to its own resources. "It is right that you should try to 'sell' this area at every opportunity. It is young people who will drive the new economy and it is up to this present generation to see that they are given that opportunity," said the minister.
In an introduction to one of the new brochures, the minister brother, John Bruton, the president of the IFSC, former Taoiseach and EU Ambassador to the United States, said that, as a Dunboyne man, he was proud to support the initiatives of the South-East Meath Chamber, which was putting a face to what these people already do - promoting and assisting enterprise in the region.
"The Chamber is a group with common goals, pooling their significant knowledge and resources to provide a stage for bringing together local and international people with shared aspirations to foster economic and social opportunities," he said.