From attracting Center Parcs and rebuilding of St Mel’s Cathedral, Co. Longford is on the ascent …and they want you to be a part of it
Flush from its success in attracting Center Parcs to locate at Newcastle Woods in Ballymahon, Longford County Council has launched a strategic marketing campaign aimed at its diaspora and the broader business community in the UK designed to present County Longford as an attractive business location. It kick started that campaign in Cricklewood earlier this year at the annual London Longford Association dinner dance.
The campaign is being led by two Longford men with experience of working and living here in the UK themselves, Longford Council Chief Executive Paddy Mahon and the Council’s Head of enterprise Michael Nevin.
The council officials met UK entrepreneurs to persuade them of the county’s suitability for maintaining a physical presence in the EU after Brexit or even just as a secondary location for part of their operations. They were following up on a growing number of enquiries received from UK companies about possible expansion into Ireland.
Center Parcs is the biggest inward investment success the Council has had and, valued at €230m, it promises, says Longford Council, to be “the largest single tourism investment project ever built in Ireland.”
The Longford resort will offer a five-star short–breaks. Longford County Council Chief Executive Paddy Mahon said that because “a project of the scale of Center Parcs needed all stakeholders working together Center Parc and Longford County Council adopted a partnership approach to the development.”
“We worked hand in hand on delivering key infrastructure elements, liaising with the community and addressing concerns as they arose. “The project is now ahead of schedule for a planned opening in 2019. “Longford County Council impressed the Center Parc’s team with its professional approach.”
“Potential investors deal with a compact management team in Longford County Council that can make decisions quickly and respond to enquiries without getting bogged down in organisational complexities.”
“One of the key strengths of Longford County Council is its relatively small size. That means potential investors deal with a compact management team that can make decisions quickly and respond to enquiries without getting bogged down in organisational complexities.”
“We are not trying to poach jobs from the UK, we are trying to accommodate operations who need to protect their European market interests post Brexit and facilitate proposed expansion or consolidation in EU markets.”
Head of Enterprise at Longford County Council Michael Nevin said: “We are aware of so many Longfordians who are carving out successful careers for themselves in London and we would like to connect with them on a semi-formal basis.
“If we can open up a communication channel with our business community we believe that it has the potential to deliver benefits to all parties involved and we would urge anyone in England who would like to help us out to contact us directly.”
Both Mahon and Nevin started their careers in London in the late 1980s and early 1990s where, they say, they were “well looked after by the Irish community” here. Their experience was such, they say, that “looking back, we can really see a value in maintaining connections with your home county.”
At that launch of the diaspora campaign in Cricklewood earlier this year Longford County Council chairperson Councillor Martin Mulleady said Longford’s close proximity to Dublin – it is just 90 minutes away – and its easy access to the four corners of Ireland including Northern Ireland offers investors many advantages. Housing, commercial space and labour are all cheaper and employee loyalty is much stronger, he said.
In recent years some very significant employers have moved to Longford or expanded their existing operations including Abbott, a SHINGO award winning plant, food processors Green Isle and Panelto and US multi-national medical technology firm Avery Dennison. The council says there is a large well of highly educated and skilled workers to draw from in the surrounding area and gives the example of Abbott Ireland – it has 600 employees drawn from a 40km radius, including 40 of them with PhDs.
“As Dublin becomes increasingly congested it makes sense for firms to locate where employees can have a better quality of life – County Longford is an ideal location in that respect,” it says.
But, the council adds, the area does not rely solely on foreign direct investment and has a strong history of indigenous employers.
“Firms with strong Longford roots keep Longford’s local towns and communities alive, firms like Pat the Baker, C&D Foods, Kiernan Milling, Kiernan Structural Steel and Fenelon Engineering. These are the bedrock of their local communities and help retain young people and talent in the county,” it says.