POSITIVE APPOINTMENT - As the New Year beckons we are all in need of boost, in this edition we are glad to feature Martin Carroll who is the newly appointed Business Development Manager for the area. Based in the Enterprise Centre, Kilkenny Road, Castlecomer his contact details are (087- 6979264) Email firstname.lastname@example.org “Ideas for local job creation are not necessarily found in looking for new horizons but seeing through new eyes”. We wish Martin well in his new role and thank him for participating in this interview. There is no magic wand here but have you a specific plan of action to attract inward investment to create employment locally? As you say there is no magic wand to solve the issue of the lack of jobs in the area. There are a variety of issues which have left us with the unemployment figures which we have at the moment, some of them National and indeed International and some of them Local. I believe that what we need to do is identify the issues which we can change and focus on those rather than getting caught up in, and bemoaning the issues which are outside of our control. Government Agencies in particular IDA Ireland have neglected North East Kilkenny as a region. Do you see that changing and if so what steps do we need to take to level the playing field.? Statistics don’t lie and it is very clear from recent figures that the IDA have had little or no focus on North East Kilkenny or indeed Kilkenny over recent years, the figures show that they have had less than 10 visits to the county as a whole over the past 3 years. This is in part due to the downturn in the international economy whereby there are less and less foreign companies looking at expanding at present and there is more and more competition from other countries to attract those who are expanding. This is one of the issues beyond our control. What is in our control however is making sure that we as a region get a fair share of the potential investors who do visit the country, to do this we must build links and networks within both Enterprise Ireland and the IDA, I have already had a number of meetings with the Regional Managers from Enterprise Ireland and will be having similar meetings with the people from the IDA in the coming weeks. I have and will continue to put before them, all that the area has to offer and some of my work will be to develop an information pack with this information. But I have also being listening to these people, trying to establish what it is that we as an area can do to make ourselves more attractive for investors, what are the current trends in employment, what fields of industry have Enterprise Ireland and the IDA set out to attract over the next 10 years. We must then take the necessary actions to ensure that we in North East Kilkenny are ready to capitalize on any investment which might be available. Kilkenny County Enterprise Board is to become part of the service offered by Kilkenny County Council in the Reform of Local Government. Will this move prove beneficial in your new role. ? Since my appointment I have found the Enterprise Board to be most approachable and helpful and both the present and previous CEO’s have gone out of their way to offer whatever support they can. Similarly I have met with the Director of Economic Development and his staff from Kilkenny County Council and they have offered every support and encouragement. While the coming together of the two groups under the current reform might prove distracting, for those involved, and it will undoubtedly take some time for the people involved on both sides to get their structures in place I don’t believe it will have any immediate effect on my role. You are based in the Enterprise Centre, Kilkenny Road, Castlecomer. What are the short term and long term plans for the centre. ? As some people will know the Enterprise Centre is located in the Old Vocational School on the Kilkenny Road in Castlecomer, opposite the Fire Station. The Enterprise Group has recently taken full ownership of this property having previously had a long term lease. The short term plans for the centre are to give it a major facelift and to make it a more attractive and inviting building from the outside, but also to carry out refurbishment works internally to provide a modern, fit for purpose centre, with an emphasis on clean tech industry and training. In the longer term it is planned that it would become a high quality training centre, targeting training at the areas identified through our links with Enterprise Ireland and the IDA to ensure that we have a highly trained pool of people ready and available to capitalize on whatever opportunities come our way. It would also provide incubation units and supports to anyone wishing to set up their own business with a view to getting them established and ready to move on to bigger and better things. How do you see your role evolving within Local Business / Local Industry / Local Community across North East Kilkenny. ? We sometimes forget the number of jobs which are provided by local business and industry, be it the recent expansion in Glanbia, the number of people employed in top quality childcare in the region or the number of people employed in local shops. All of these jobs are important and must be protected; we cannot afford more job losses at any level. We all have a role in working with these local business people in promoting and celebrating all that we as a region have to offer and in encouraging people to support local employers where possible. Waterford IT and Carlow IT where do you see both contribute to forward planning towards sustainable employment ? Both of these have the potential to offer us the business people and employers of tomorrow and I have already been in touch with each of them with a view to creating links and establishing what we can do to support and attract some of these graduates to the area to set up business, be it providing affordable space or ensuring that we have the right infrastructure in place. I believe that equally and perhaps even more important, although often overlooked, is Kildalton Agricultural College in Piltown. Agriculture and food have long been the backbone of the rural economy and I believe it will become even more so into the future, we have young men and women graduating from this college each year with ideas and enthusiasm to develop not alone their own farms but also full of the ideas and knowledge to add value to the product they produce. If we in North East Kilkenny can harness, guide and provide real supports to these graduates they have unlimited potential to provide real and sustainable jobs into the future. What actions do you have in mind to attract foreign direct investment for job creation in North East Kilkenny. ? As we spoke about earlier attracting foreign direct investment has never been more difficult, we are competing not alone on a regional and national stage but on and international one. It is important to develop our links with the right people in both Enterprise Ireland and the IDA, I also believe that the Connect Ireland Project based in Kilkenny is worth supporting and encouraging and it is planned to bring some of these people out to the area to make presentations, explaining in detail the concept over the coming months. Much of our job creation in the past has depended on smaller local business development rather than relying on a foreign savior and my view is it will be the same in the future. We have a young, educated workforce how do you hope to stop the brain drain leaving Castlecomer and surrounding parishes.? The brain drain has long been the scourge of Ireland and unfortunately it has returned, however much of the world is going through a similar crisis, making it more difficult for our young people to find employment, even abroad. This creates an environment where our young people might be encouraged to look at starting their own business and creating their own employment, as the opportunities elsewhere are more difficult to identify and are less attractive than they were in the past. If we, working with all of the state agencies charged with employment generation, can identify what supports these young people need, be it grant support, mentoring, or an affordable place to start up in business and create an entrepreneurial spirit in the region there is no reason why this crisis can’t be turned into an opportunity for at least some of our highly educated young people. What do you hope to achieve over your term? My initial term is for one year. If we could create a top quality training facility focused on training people towards employment in fields identified by the state agencies as having jobs growth potential, and sowing the seeds for a culture of local people creating local jobs and encourage the culture of doing it for ourselves, then I believe we as a region will have made a good start, which if maintained and developed can create long term sustainable jobs.
COUNTRY MARKETS - Castlecomer Country Markets wish all their customers a happy and peaceful New Year. Thank you for your support. Market will re-open on Friday January 18th. Christmas raffle winners were Nellie Callinan, Catherine Murphy Comerford, Maurice Shortall and Margaret King.
WATER IMPROVEMENTS - Kilkenny County Council have applied for funding to carry out works at Yellow Road in 2013 under the Small Schemes Programme. These works would involve the installation of a chamber and Variable Speed Drive on Yellow Road. This will assist in controlling pressures on the existing pipework.
DISCOVERY PARK - Castlecomer Discovery Park wishes to thank all those who contributed their time in making the Christmas experience as magical as it was at the Park this year. The feedback from visitors (many who were visiting the Castlecomer for the first time) was extremely positive with comments about the quality of the experience and friendliness of everyone involved. This would not have been possible without the enormous input from the local community, in particular Castlecomer Community School’s Transition Year students, the ladies who assisted with the mulled wine reception, and the entire Santa and Mrs Claus team! Thank you once again and best wishes for 2013.
WHISTING THE NIGHT AWAY - Big winners in the Christmas Whist Drive were: Top Score: Catherine Brennan, 1st Lady: Bridie Medcalfe, 2nd Lady: Mary Gowing, 1st Gent: Eamon Owens, 2nd Gent:Willie Murphy. First Half: Kitty Butler, Tom Fenlon Others: Elizabeth Carrigan, Maureen Kelly. Raffle winners results: Lily Kinsella, Tom Kealy, Maureen Lawlor, Ena Wallace, Mary Gowing, Molly O’Brien, Paul Kavanagh, John Harrison, Ned Kenny, Mary ‘OShea, Maureen Kelly, Tessie Coogan, Leslie Hunter, Kit Farrell, Margaret Kealy, Eugene Murphy, Anne Kealy, Lorna Allen, Owen Salmon. Next Whist Drive will held on the 4th January 2013 @ 8.30pm. This will be a special Whist Drive Top score €50 Admission €5. All are welcome.