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Chamber's 2020 vision for New Ross

Ambitious thinking key to securing investment in district as Chamber set attracting major company and big retailer as top priorities

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Chamber President Sean Reidy on New Ross quay front

Chamber President Sean Reidy on New Ross quay front

Chamber President Sean Reidy on New Ross quay front

newrossstandard

Attracting a major company to New Ross is top of the agenda for the new Chamber executive.

The executive group met in New Ross on Tuesday and during a lengthy meeting four priorities were outlined. Chamber President Sean Reidy said these include attracting a major company to the town within four years, local stakeholders taking back ownership of the port, getting a large new hotel for the town and attracting a major retailer to open a shop in the town centre.

Mr Reidy said stevedores at New Ross Port are seeking to have more of a say in its running, after it was announced earlier this year that Waterford Port was being lined up to take control of its operations. 'The future development of the port is a big priority as the port has a big say in New Ross and in the stakeholders in New Ross. There is the issue of it going to Waterford but we have views on that and we have stakeholders on our board who are currently in discussions with the county manager about running the port. I would hope a way could be found. On the one hand it can't be in the hands of private enterprise. We would be really emphasising our fear that will Waterford promote New Ross in the way we want it promoted. We feel New Ross stakeholders need to have a say in how it is run going forward and we are supporting the stakeholders in the town in those discussions.'

He said supporting the town's retail sector is a major priority. 'In the amalgamation process there was a lot of discussion and a change of personnel on the board here. We need to set up a retail sub committee to look at the challenges of retail in the town. My own sense when I look at New Ross, I think SuperValu, for instance, is really so important to the heart of the town because the footfall in SuperValu feeds into the town so how do we maintain the heart of New Ross as a retail environment? That is a big question because you are hitting against multiple factors like internet shopping. If we could get another major retailer into town on South Street that would be huge and a game changer.'

Mr Reidy said the tourism sector is very well served but a big hotel is needed.

'With the greenway and the new centre in the Michael Murphy building, all of the public sector investment has to spill over into the private sector. I would love to see another major hotel even across in the Albatros site. When over €20m in investment is coming to the town. It's massive investment and then there will be investment on the river with The Galley and the river cruise. To me if that investment is going to reap dividends we have to increase the accommodation sector, otherwise people will be dipping in and dipping out of the town. I think a hotel and or hostel is a good idea.'

He said developing an environment of confidence is needed in the New Ross retail community. 'I think this is one of the things chambers can do: generate that confidence and also bring expertise into the area, where someone who has expertise where we can offer an advice centre where the best information is available. Chambers have to collate the information. Find out where the gaps are, what the unemployment rate is, what skills are out there. There needs to be an audit done of all that so that investment decisions are well informed. It's a huge job.'

Mr Reidy said the chamber can be at the forefront in making New Ross an environmentally aware town like Clonakilty.

'One of the real hot issues is climate change. I have already made phone calls to Brussels seeking funding to become Ireland's first greenest town. Take the river, you look at hydro electricity like they have in Ardnacrusha in Limerick. I just wonder with the tidal waters, there is huge unstoppable surges four times a day. Could we not look at harnessing the power of the river to give electricity for the whole town. I think the chamber needs to lead the way. We have pointed to the need for members to be carbon neutral and environmentally friendly as this is going to be part of every business model going forward. In doing that, why not look at New Ross? The idea of harnessing the power of the river is not new but I don't know if it has ever really been pursued.'

Mr Reidy said a prospectus highlighting what the town and area has to offer is needed. 'We have a strategy committee in town with 11 members. We have a very strong desire to attract another major company into New Ross. We met on Tuesday where we formulated a plan. We have decided that we are going to focus on attracting a major industry to New Ross. To do that we need to develop a prospectus for the town. We have to set out what New Ross has to offer: it has two sites for planning for two advance factories but it also has greenfield sites. We don't want to limit ourselves, we are talking about pharmaceutical industry. We have contacts so we have a company like Nolan Transport who have tremendous contacts and personally I do through the Irish America connections I have contacts in America. They do a science awards every year and I have had researchers from WIT to be recognised. There are different networks out there, the county council has networks.'

He said this involves tapping into the Wexford diaspora.

'I see identifying Wexford people who are high achievers, young and old down through the generations as being very important. People like Donald Keogh who was the first inductee into the Irish America Hall of Fame. I first came in contact with him in 2006 when the Coca Cola plant opened in Wexford and in his speech that day Donald Keogh said the fact Coca Cola were opening in Wexford had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that his great-great grandfather came from the county, it was purely a business decision, but he said it with a smile on his face. So all things being equal these type of contacts are really important and you can pull off something really big.

'If you take a company like Integer who employ 950 people. The contribution they make to New Ross is in the tens of millions each year. I don't know what their weekly wage bill is but it must be around €500,000. If we can get another company like that to come to New Ross that will have a huge impact so that's a really singular focus. We have set up another sub committee of five of us to achieve this within three to four years. We have to put our prospectus together and then we have to start networking. We can't wait for the IDA as there are other counties out there who are being very active.'


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