Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, met with TDs this week to discuss the impact of Brexit, key investment and planning priorities for the West and region along with measures needed in the budget to support business in the region.
Ibec West Regional Director John Brennan said: “Meeting with TDs gives the business community a great platform to outline the needs of businesses in the region. The Ibec West Regional Executive Committee have consistently said that successful businesses are central to the region’s economic prospects and the creation of a truly dynamic, diverse economy. However, a thriving business community is directly linked to a strong infrastructure network. The committee believes that investment in infrastructure is the key to unlocking the great potential of the West region.
“The National Planning Framework must deliver a networked approach to planning which can bring about a coordinated investment and planning strategy which builds on the individual strengths and opportunities of each of the region’s urban and rural areas. This will require a much more joined-up approach from national and local government than seen in the past.
“The level of capital investment allocated to the region needs to be substantially increased in the mid-term review of the capital investment plan. The short-term investment needs of the region include the N5 Westport to Turlough, the N5 Ballaghaderreen bypass to Longford and the N6 Galway City bypass road projects.
“Broadband also remains a key infrastructure gap with 57% of premises in the West region currently without access to high speed broadband. SMEs without access to high speed broadband can’t compete on a level playing field. Some companies wish to facilitate home-working, this requires high speed broadband. In addition, the shortage of housing supply has the potential to damage economic growth and employment in the region.
“Budget 2017 represents a clear opportunity to facilitate business investment and growth in all towns across the region. Given the challenges posed by the UK decision to leave the EU, creating jobs and maintaining a positive business environment should be the top priority as we navigate through this period of uncertainty and begin a new phase of regional development. Strategic planning and ambitious investment can help to establish the West region as a dynamic, well connected hub for businesses to thrive,” concluded Mr Brennan.