A 10-year economic development strategy is recommended to assist economic growth and create employment in the Southeast region, according to a new report by the Joint Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.
A sense of shared purpose to create real regional cohesion will help the region to revive its economy, promote and sustain business, develop enterprise, create jobs and deal with unemployment, the report says. This will involve inter-county and inter-agency collaboration to eliminate needless layers of bureaucracy and deliver effective change.
Report author and committee member Senator David Cullinane said: "The Southeast region faces many challenges including high unemployment, low educational attainment levels and social disadvantage. However, it has many strengths, including an improved road infrastructure, water and waste water treatment plants, the Rosslare and Waterford Ports and the Institutes of Technology. The region is well placed in the areas of health, life sciences & medical devices, financial & internationally traded services, tourism, culture & the arts, agri-business, food production & technology, engineering, mobile technologies, software development & digital media and bio-technology & the green economy.
The Southeast can focus on its key strengths in tourism, agri-business and food production, developing a critical mass of expertise through improved educational attainment, delivery of a Technological University and strong research and development. The region must maximise the potential of existing key assets such as the two ports of national significance - Rosslare and Waterford - the regional airport and improvements to the road and rail network."
Among the other key priorits that the report identifies for the Southeast are:
- The establishment of a southeast regional office and a southeast regional director of the IDA based in Waterford City.
- To ensure that the South east has at least the same IDA Investment Aid as the BMW region as part of the Regional Aid Guidelines for 2014 - 2020.
- The establishment of a Technological University and the building of competitive advantage through a strong research and development hub and support for innovation and creativity.
- A strategy to improve educational attainment and skills provision in the region.
- The development of a regional Transport Hub that aligns road, rail and port infrastructure, maximises use of both ports (Rosslare and Waterford), ensures completion of the Enniscorthy and New Ross Bypass and improve- ments to the N24 to greatly improve the Limerick to Waterford road corridor.
- Investment in the roll-out of dark fibre network (Broadband) in the region.
- Investment in the Regional Airport to allow for expansion of the runway and the opening of opportunities to access new markets and supporting growth in tourism.
- Supporting tourism as a key driver of economic growth through a co-ordinated and integrated regional strategy and the development of a strategic tourism vision.
- The Development of the Southeast as a world leader in food including production, processing, ingredients and technolgy. This should involve maximising the potential of Harvest 2020 and the abolition of the milk quota in 2015.
"The proposed ten-year Economic Development Strategy would allow time for new structures to bed in and facilitate long-term planning in terms of R&D, allocation of resources and industry development that is necessary to achieve sustainable economic expansion," said Senator Cullinane.
Access the report here: http://www.bit.ly/1bmq5AR