A new business park in Ballymote could create up to 200 new jobs during the next five years, local Dail Deputy John Perry declared on Friday afternoon last when he performed the official opening of the Park on which four business incubation units are now complete.
The opening ceremony was an occasion on which compliments were showered on the local community of Ballymote, with one speaker declaring the town had probably the best development association in Ireland.
The new three and a half acre Business Park, at Carrownanty, is the result of the efforts of Ballymote Community Enterprise Ltd, of which Mr. Perry is chairman.
He said that the units cost £430,000 and that funding from the Leader programme and the International Fund for Ireland was £170,000. He also went on to acknowledge the support of the IDA, Enterprise Ireland, the County Development Team, Sligo County Council and Bank of Ireland, among others.
However, Mr. Perry pointed out that the real key to the project was William Henry, a local man now living in England, who was prepared to put in £2m for the remainder of the development, which would make it one of the finest parks in the country.
Mr. Henry, a native of Keash, and his wife, Liz, travelled from London to Ballymote to be present for the official opening of the business park.
Mr. Perry said that of 53,000 square feet in the park, 40,000 had already been approved for planning. Each unit has more than 1,500 square feet of space, which can be let at competitive rents to fledgling businesses to allow them develop.
"Ballymote is looking to a very bright industrial future," declared Mr. Perry, before unveiling a plaque at the entrance to the Park.
Master of ceremonies for the official opening was Ms. Noreen Cremin.
Speaking on behalf of the board of Ballymote Community Enterprise Ltd, she said: "This is a very happy day for us to have succeeded in developing these industrial units." She described Mr. Perry as "the driving force" behind the development.
Michael Lynch, of the Industrial Development Authority, complimented the enterprise company on building the four industrial units.
"It’s great to see what was an IDA site being put to good use," he said.
Barry Egan, of Enterprise Ireland, said he wished to "compliment the team in Ballymote" which put a lot of energy into constructing the units.
"We would see this enterprise centre as important infrastructure and hopefully will act as a spur for further development," he said, adding that he hoped to see the premises occupied before too long.
Mr. Greg Curry, representing the IFI, said he too hoped the units would be let before too long. He pointed out that contributions for the Fund came from the United States, the European Union, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
"Without those funds we wouldn’t be able to support these projects," Mr. Curry pointed out.
In a statement, the IFI pointed out that it had a long association with the Ballymote community, which had worked closely with state agencies and the private sector. All sectors previously supported the development of 10 workspace units in a derelict building back in 1993. These units are now fully operational with 30 people employed in tenant companies.
Mr. Curry said it had been tremendous for the IFI to work with a community as vibrant, dynamic and forward-looking as the people of Ballymote.
"This is a major investment in the future of the town that I am confident will prove a great success," said Mr. Curry. "Business incubation units have proved extremely important in economic regeneration and development all across the area of the Fund’s operations."
"We are pleased to see the result of years of hard work culminating in these units," said Michael Quigley of the Sligo Leader Company, adding that he hoped it would be a pointer to "what will happen here in the future."
He also said that he hoped such developments would lead to prosperity for rural towns such as Ballymote.
Retired County Development Officer Terry Byrne said that nothing could have happened in Ballymote without the community, which was prepared to put in a tremendous amount of work over many years. He recalled that Mr. Christy Leonard, of the County Development Board, had encouraged the people in Ballymote to think of an Enterprise Centre but it was the work of the community and the people themselves over the years which helped make it happen.
"When we came out, we got the support to do it," said Mr. Byrne, who paid tribute to Michael Lynch and the IDA for making the site available to the local community.
He went on to say that Ballymote had probably the best community development association in Ireland. The business park was only a fraction of the work of the local community, which had provided a park and, hopefully in the future, a museum for the O’Hara carriages.
Mr. Christy Leonard, formerly of the county development team, and Mr. John Reilly, of the County Sligo Enterprise Board, also complimented the local community in Ballymote and those involved in the development of the business park.
Mr. Leonard said that he hoped that the new business park in Ballymote, together with the new business park in Strandhill, would help "sell the county."
Among those present at the official opening was general election candidate Clr. Eamon Scanlon, as well as Clr. Michael Fleming and Clr. Gerry Murray.
The architect for the project was Vincent Hannon while the quantity surveyor was Tim Lynch on behalf of the Enterprise Company. The contractors were Cawley & Scanlon