FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan outlined his vision of what the future holds for small and medium businesses at a conference, organised by Charleville Business Chamber, which attracted business people from all over North Cork and South Limerick to the Charleville Park Hotel on last Friday.
The 80-strong attendance at the all-day conference entitled 'Building the Blocks of Success for the North Cork SME Sector' was welcomed by Aine Collins TD, who congratulated the organising committee for the success of the venture.
P. J. McCarthy, President of Charleville Chamber outlined the programme for the day and introduced Minister Noonan, who addressed the first session which dealt with the future of the SME Sector.
Minister Noonan set the tone for the succession of high powered speakers that followed, like Fergal O'Brien, chief economist with IBEC, who spoke on the business and economic outlook for 2013 and Martin Riordan, County Manager, Cork County Council who spoke on 'Local Enterprise Offices – The Changing Landscape' to bring the first sessions to a close.
The theme of the mid-morning session was 'Accessing Credit for the Business Sector' which involved speakers, Brendan O'Connor, Head of Business Banking, AIB, Mark Cunningham, Head of Business Banking, Bank of Ireland, Yvonne Barry, Partner Quintas Registered Auditors and non-executive director, Micro Finance Ireland, spoke on micro-finance funding – case studies, brought the conference to the break for lunch. The chairman here was Gerard Cott of Charleville Chamber.
Niall Donnellan of Enterprise Ireland got the afternoon session underway. This dealt with 'Globalisation and Looking to the Future' and his talk was on 'Innovation as a driver for Internationalisation.' He was followed by Stephen McKenzie, CEO, ICU Global who discussed 'Expanding on a Technology Cloud' and Professor Patrick Fitzpatrick, Chair of the Steering Group of Energy Cork at University College Cork, whose topic was 'The Energy Drive for the Future.' The President of Charleville Chamber, P. J. McCarthy chaired this session.
The speaker at the final session, which was titled 'Inspiring Recovery,' was Dragon's Den star Sean O'Sullivan, Managing Director of Avego, who spoke on the 'Supports Available for Business' to bring the conference to a close.
There was a lively question and answer period at the end of each session and those present took full advantage of the opportunity to question each speaker on his topic.