The challenges outlined in the recent South East Economic Monitor report must be acknowledged but equal attention has to be paid to progress which is occurring in the region, says Kilkenny Chamber of Commerce.

Representing over 250 member businesses across Kilkenny City and County, the organisation believes that the report is counter-productive in its claim that the South East’s “recovery is running out of steam”.

With Chambers from across the region working hard to keep the South East front of mind where decisions are being made about jobs, investment and new initiatives involving infrastructural plans and strategies, Kilkenny Chamber of Commerce say the report must be grasped as a positive opportunity to challenge key decision makers to step up and support the South East region.

Issues linked to the relationship between the South East and Government were cited as a reoccurring factor preventing key economic drivers from taking place in the region. The time has now come for stronger and more robust relationships to be built with the various agencies who are also charged with a similar task.

“It is no secret that Kilkenny and the South East region face very significant challenges when accessing investment and funding at a national level. Historically, this has been an issue and we must ensure that the region is represented strongly and consistently at local, regional and national levels as a great place to do business so that it gets its fair share of the action.” says John Hurley, Chief Executive of Kilkenny Chamber.

Whilst the report contains analyses of data such as car sales, income tax and VAT returns, housing and workers on minimum wage, the most significant critiques throughout the report related to the labour market.

“We know that the South East is not only a great place to do business in, but a great place to live in. While the attraction and retention of talent in high-skilled roles is a concern for companies in the South East, it is also one which is shared right across Ireland. The vision of the region as a whole is one which has to be promoted and encouraged to ensure that we continue attracting highly skilled workers here. The South East must now step up and set itself apart as a great location to do business.” says Marion Acreman, President of Kilkenny Chamber.

A survey which was undertaken by National Recruitment & HR Services Group Collins McNicholas in conjunction with IDA Ireland found that growing numbers of highly-skilled professionals from across the world are choosing the South East as it offers a better work/life balance, lower living costs and career opportunities when compared with other regions.

95 per cent of respondents from 20 different countries said that they now have a better balance between their working and home lives.

Kilkenny Chamber of Commerce is now calling for:

  1. Support for the creation of the Technical University for the South East without delay.
  2. The N24 be upgraded to motorway standard as soon as possible
  3. Increased positive collaboration between stakeholders in the South East such as Local Authorities, Local Enterprise Offices, Colleges, ETBs, Chambers, IDA, Enterprise Ireland, etc.