Of the €17m Border Enterprise Development Fund announced today by Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, a total of €5.6m has been allocated to projects in Louth but just €587,600 is for a project in Drogheda.
The majority of the money for Louth, €4.5m, is destined for the establishment of an Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Training Centre to be run by the Louth and Meath Education and Training Board (LMETB) and located in the Xerox Technology Park in Dundalk.
LMETB CEO Martin O’Brien, said: “Brexit, and more recently COVID-19, has shone a light on manufacturing in Ireland which is reaching a critical point and needs to change. To successfully compete in the global market, Irish industry must employ Advanced Manufacturing techniques.
“This Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Centre of Excellence here in Dundalk will empower Irish industry to make that move and open up opportunities for higher paid employment. LMETB is delighted to lead this national initiative in partnership with Enterprise Ireland, the Department of Education and skills and SOLAS.”
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“This project aims to facilitate businesses, to succeed in the region, through the provision of a bespoke and affordable co-working space in Drogheda town centre complemented with tailored management and mentoring support to facilitate their growth and export potential” said the department in a statement issued today.
“This project is an opportunity to target ‘post-Covid’ commuters, those seeking a career change from employee (commuter) to entrepreneur (in the region) and the ‘Brexit opportunity’ to target UK businesses seeking an EU home will add to the project’s success.
“It is also an opportunity to attract many technology start-ups located outside the region due to the lack of viable property solutions in the Border/NE/Dundalk region.”
This project will be located in the former Drogheda Youth Development (DYD) building on West Street which is owned by Louth County Council.
Another of the projects in County Louth to receive funding (€254,877) today was a project called the Athena Stem Project which is designed to stimulate female led entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship through the launch of a Female STEM Entrepreneurship and STEM SME Management Excellence Capability at DkIT.
The other Louth based project is the Creative Spark Downtown project which received funding of €269,408 and seeks to enhance the start-up and business support ecosystem in the region by creating a town centre co-working space in Dundalk.
“The aim is to create an exemplar remote working initiative which will position Dundalk, a Regional Growth Centre identified under Project Ireland 2040, and develop cross-border linkages to sustain attractive urban locations from which to drive enterprise activity in the region” the announcement said.
Announcing the funding earlier today at DkIT, Minister Heather Humphreys TD said earlier today: “… the Border Enterprise Development Fund is part of a €28m economic stimulus package, which I announced for the Border Region earlier this year. It’s designed to foster collaboration while helping to make businesses more resilient, more innovative and more competitive.
“All of the research shows that the Border region is most exposed to the impact of Brexit, and obviously the situation is even more difficult now with the COVID-19 challenge. That’s why I want to ensure that businesses in the region are supported by Government in responding to the challenges and uncertainties that lie ahead.
“This is the first time that my Department has provided targeted, ringfenced funding to a specific region, which represents a strong statement of our commitment to the Border area. Through this Fund, I want to make businesses in the border region more resilient, more innovative and more competitive so that we can stimulate enhanced economic activity in the region.”
Drogheda TD, Fergus O’Dowd, said the €5.6m in Border funding announced for County Louth today shows the government’s firm commitment to the County and the North East.
“The Mill Enterprise Hub, Creative Spark, DKIT, and the LMETB will benefit from a combined €5.6m to deliver stream 1 & 2 collaborative and innovative projects across the county and region” he said.
“The North East will face significant uncertainty and economic challenges as we see the stark effects of the UK’s withdrawal from EU at first-hand. The monies announced today will certainly help our local SMEs to become more resilient and face the many challenges that Covid and Brexit have presented including strengthening our Advanced Manufacturing skills which will be vital in the years ahead.
“I would like to congratulate all of the successful projects and look forward to seeing the plans advance over the coming months.”