Pictured at the launch of their second commuter survey of of the Louth/ Meath region are (from Left): Trevor Connolly CEO, of the Love Drogheda Business Improvement District, Niall Kierans of Love Drogheda, Breanndán Casey of The Mill Enterprise Hub and Robert Murray , President of Drogheda & District Chamber.
Many people who are currently working from their homes in Drogheda are thinking back to the days of their long daily commutes to the office and are saying “Nah, not going back there, certainly not fulltime.”
Working from home over the past 12-18 months has made workers realise that the three or four hours they used to spend commuting was dead time that they could have spent with their families or friends or in leisure activities.
A year on from the first large scale commuter survey of its kind in the Louth/ Meath region, three Drogheda enterprise organisations have repeated the exercise to identify the employment changes that are happening.
According to CSO figures, there are approximately 15,000 skilled workers living in our South Louth, East Meath hinterland, with over 65% of those surveyed previously leaving for work before 7:30am and not returning until after 6:30PM losing key opportunities to engage in the local community.
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Breanndán Casey of The Mill Enterprise Hub, said that more than forty per cent of available workers are commuting outside of the area every day.
“This is simply unsustainable from an environmental, community, mental well-being, and regional enterprise development perspective” he said, “It is obvious that commuters are craving to have the choice to live and work locally.”
In the latest survey, 69% of respondents suggested that they will not be returning to the office on a full time basis with 59% suggesting that they will avail of a hybrid model between working from home 3 days per week and visiting the office.
For those remote workers that are currently seeking an out-of-home office we are lucky to have one of the Flagship Enterprise Hubs in Ireland with the Mill Enterprise Centre based on Newtown Link Road.
The past 12 months have seen a dramatic shift in commuter patterns with 73% of those surveyed now working remotely (previously 46%) and 61% noted that they now spend more time in Drogheda.
Trevor Connolly CEO of Love Drogheda Business Improvement District noted that “Over the next number of months, we are expecting to see a reciprocal boost to the local economy evidenced by the fact that 94% of all those surveyed are acutely more aware of shopping and supporting local business with 698 respondents suggesting that they make a conscious effort to shop in Drogheda now.
Previously, over 60% of commuters from our town and region where travelling between 2 and 4 hours per day which limited their opportunities to shop locally and engage with the local community. COVID 19 has had an impact and some retailers have noted that they have new customers who are only now getting to know the town. With remote working now firmly embedded into company culture Drogheda’s attractiveness in terms of location for start-ups and second site solutions should grow due to its lower cost base for office and industrial accommodation”.
We would hope, with lower living and set up costs and given support from state agencies such as Enterprise Ireland and our Local Enterprise Office that there is an opportunity to optimise our locational advantage and identify town centre sites that would be ripe to promote cluster development within our section of the M1 Fintech Corridor”
Drogheda & District Chamber President, Robert Murray, stated “…Drogheda, the largest and fastest growing town in Ireland, has undergone a seismic shift from a traditional industrial town and is now identified as a Regional Growth Centre in the Governments 2040 National Plan.
“We are determined to develop local opportunities and ensure that Drogheda reaches its full potential. The Chamber is delighted to have developed a very strong working relationship with The Mill Enterprise Hub, Love Drogheda BIDS and together, we will do all we can to attract and welcome new businesses here.
He said that the development of the new Drogheda Digital Innovation Hub will be an “opportunity to kick-start this new era for Drogheda and help regenerate and revitalise the Westgate Area of our town”.
The three organisations are working with all local and national government agencies on showcasing Drogheda’s existing economic strengths including niches in shared services, food manufacturing, a burgeoning fintech cluster across the M1 region, and medical products.
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