Pictured at Bellingham Castle prior to the launch of the M1 Corridor initiative were (from left) Paddy Malone of Dundalk Chamber, President of Drogheda & District Chamber Shona McManus, Minister Eoghan Murphy and Pat McComick of Dundalk Chamber of Commerce.
Today may well turn out to have been something of a turning point for Drogheda as a major new initiative to attract business and jobs to the region was launched.
Business and political leaders from throughout the Louth region and from across the border packed into Bellingham Castle this morning to witness Minister Eoghan Murphy launch a major new initiative aimed at challenging the dominance of Dublin and Belfast and attracting international investment into the Drogheda -Dundalk-Newry region, along the M1 motorway.
Called The M1 Corridor Project, this business-led initiative is being driven by local business groups, such as Drogheda & District Chamber, Dundalk Chamber, The Mill Enterprise Hub and Oriel Hub Enterprise Centre.
The aim of the project is to drive international investment into the region by highlighting the enormous advantages it has as a superb location for investment. Central among these advantages is the connectivity of the region as the transport and broadband backbone of the island.
Advertisement - continue reading below
At the launch the President of Drogheda & District Chamber Shona McManus (left) said the M1 Corridor Project is “a truly ground-up initiative that has been developed and supported by local stakeholders across the region.”
She said that as well as its proximity to air, road and sea transport routes, the region is rich in talent and Drogheda in particular had a rapidly growing, well-educated population almost half of whom had qualifications in STEM subjects.
She also highlighted the lifestyle benefits for companies and their employees in the area saying that from her experience in her own company, Osborne Recruitment, she knew there were many people whose main reason for seeking to change jobs was to live in the area and to get rid of the commuting aspect of heir lives.
“The M1 Corridor has enormous potential and offers unrivalled advantages to Foreign Direct investment, second site and Start Up companies, including a growing and educated population, easy access to three airports and four deep water ports and faster broadband speeds than the IFSC” she said.
Paddy Malone of Dundalk Chamber (left) said; ‘’the M1 Corridor Project has been carefully developed by local business groups for over ten years and will bring new investment and jobs into the Drogheda-Dundalk-Newry region.
“Our critical objective is to highlight the huge advantages of the region in comparison to Dublin or Belfast as a location for investment. The North East region has been comparably neglected and has relied on indigenous business for development.
“For countless years, there has been far too much emphasis placed on Dublin and this has backfired in terms of spiralling housing, commercial property and wage costs for firms moving to Ireland. The M1 corridor is close to Dublin but is highly cost competitive. The M1 Corridor is of critical strategic importance to the all-island economy in the decades ahead.’’
The project addresses the key future planning, development and policy priorities for the Eastern and Midlands Region as set out in the Government’s Ireland 2040 development plan. The regional role of Drogheda-Dundalk-Newry cross-border networks are identified and supported in the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy.
Minister Eoghan Murphy said that today’s launch was all about getting the message out and the investment in. He said that the M1 region is attractive potential investors because it was “investment ready”, the people are here and the infrastructure is here.
He added that the Government is striving to achieve 75% of future population growth outside of Dublin and that the MI region is one of five regional drivers of this development.
Speaking after the launch, the former Business Minister, Senator Ged Nash said: “the government must put money and its weight behind the M1 Corridor plan to make its ambitions a reality.
“Drogheda & Dundalk Chambers, local businesses, The Mill and other bodies deserve great credit for developing this concept and marketing proposition that can allow jobs and enterprise to flourish in Drogheda and in Dundalk.
“Plans which first appeared in the Action Plan for Jobs which I authored in late 2015 to develop a world class digital payments cluster in the region have yet to be funded by this government.
“It is imperative to the success of this plan that the hard work being done by local stakeholders to deliver the epayments industry plan in the area is supported by the government both financially and in policy and promotional terms.”
As all this was happening in Castlebellingham the Financial Times’s FDI Magazine has identified Drogheda as one of Europe’s emerging “micro-cities” in a report on European Cities and regions of the future, something that was welcomed by the Drogheda City Status Group.
For more information on the M1 Corridor see: m1corridor.ie