Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane has today launched a ten year economic development strategy for the southeast region on behalf of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.
Senator Cullinane has spent the last year gathering information, speaking to local businesses and communities and developing the strategy on behalf of the committee.
Speaking this morning he 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 and medical devices, financial and internationally traded services, tourism, culture and the arts, agri-business, food production and technology, engineering, mobile technologies, software development and digital media and bio-technology and 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.
“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.
“With the right policies, a coherent regional approach and a focus on the key strengths of the region I have no doubt that the Southeast can and will develop socially and economically and create the necessary jobs. We must foster a spirit of doing it for ourselves, support creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship and allow the region to flourish and grow.”
Among the other key priorities 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 Southeast 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 in the region 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 improvements 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 coordinated 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 technology. This should involve maximising the potential of Harvest 2020 and the abolition of the milk quota in 2015.