The conference room in Rothe House was filled to capacity last week by the large number of delegates attending the 69th AGM of Kilkenny Chamber of Commerce.
President Deirdre Shine spoke of how the Chamber is performing strongly year on year and is in a very solid position with ambitious further growth plans into the future.
“There is so much potential for Kilkenny right now that it is impossible not to be positive!” she said.
“All of the proposed developments for Kilkenny represent huge opportunities for business growth and it is up to each of us to capitalise on and embrace the positive change that is around us”.
Through its ongoing engagement with Chamber members, Kilkenny County Council, Local Enterprise Office, IDA and others, the Chamber is ensuring that the voice of Kilkenny businesses is heard loud and clear at all decision making fora in the region.
Its key priorities are the creation of jobs through the South East Action Plan for Jobs and the promotion of business tourism whereby visitors are encouraged to stay longer and spend more in County Kilkenny.
President Deirdre Shine sees the shortage of housing as a major challenge for Kilkenny which she feels will restrict the scale of future businesses coming to Kilkenny if a solution is not found soon. The Chamber continues to lobby on this and encourages the Local Authority, developers and builders to engage now and push hard on this issue to ensure that Kilkenny is not left behind by missed opportunities.
She pointed out that the Chamber has a very strong voice also at regional and national level with John Hurley CEO of Kilkenny Chamber also sitting as Chair of the South East Region Chamber Co and also a Director of Chambers Ireland which is the largest business organisation in the country.
Deirdre thanked John, Mary and the Board for their hard work and commitment to the Chamber and to making Kilkenny a fantastic place to live, work and do business.
Guest speaker at the event was Jenny De Saulles, Head of Ireland’s Ancient East in Failte Ireland. She reported that the tourism industry is in a good place with 5 consecutive years of positive growth in overseas holidaymakers coming to Ireland. “Kilkenny has a fantastic product but is over reliant on the domestic market” she said. “We must understand that the needs of the international visitor are different and adjust our service offering to meet those needs”. The average spend per capita by the domestic holidaymaker is €238 but the overseas holidaymaker spends €550. So for every 1,000 international visitors coming to Kilkenny, 14 jobs are created.
The Ireland’s Ancient East concept is proving to be very successful in influencing visitors to come to this region and spend time visiting additional attractions in the area. “The Chambers Medieval Mile Pass is an excellent example of the concept in operation” she said.
John Hurley CEO thanked President Deirdre for her unwavering support during the year and paid tribute to the work and commitment of the highly talented and experienced members of the Chamber Board.
He took the opportunity to announce the launch of the Chambers new Medieval Mile Pass which now includes free entry to the St Marys Medieval Mile Museum which had its grand opening only 2 weeks previously. “It has been another fantastic year for the Chamber and I would encourage all businesses in Kilkenny to consider joining membership and be part of the pre-eminent business representative organisation in the country” he said. #
“Together we are stronger and we need all the strength we can muster to ensure Kilkenny gets its fair share of business initiatives and jobs going forward”.
He ended the AGM with an open invitation for members and their guests to come to the next Chamber Chat event on Friday 28th May at 6.00pm in the Kilkenny Hibernian Hotel (the Whiskey Exchange Bar) and the guest speaker is John Cleere who will talk about the Kilkenny Roots Festival which takes place next weekend.