New report backs SE University

Tom Murran, Chair of the University Task Group, Monica Leech, CEO of Waterford Chamber, Claire Phelan, Strategic Manager at Waterford Chamber and Andrew O’Neill, President Waterford Chamber.<br />

Tom Murran, Chair of the University Task Group, Monica Leech, CEO of Waterford Chamber, Claire Phelan, Strategic Manager at Waterford Chamber and Andrew O’Neill, President Waterford Chamber.

An Economic Summary Report, commissioned from Deloitte Economic Consultants and launched in Dublin last week by Waterford Chamber, states that third and fourth level education must be delivered in Waterford if the South East region is to improve its record of poor economic performance relative to the rest of the country. The report shows that given the clear regional economic disadvantage, the business case for re-designation of WIT to the University of the South East is overwhelming,

The findings highlight that through the successful development of Waterford as the Gateway to the region, the entire South East will be revitalised through significant job creation. However, the delivery of long-term sustainable employment is linked to attracting a sufficient number of firms in knowledge based industry which requires an educational and economic platform from which the region can grow. The provision of a University is critical to the delivery of the requirements of this type of industry.

Currently, residents in the South East Region can expect to earn only 89.7% of the average income and have only 91.9% of the disposable income enjoyed by the national average. In order to reverse this trend, the findings recommend intervention on the part of a wide range of stakeholders to realise Waterford City’s potential as a ‘Gateway’ city under the National Spatial Strategy (NSS).

The report identifies a number of actions that should be taken in order to reverse the trend of poor economic performance. Key to the development of the South East is a very strong urban centre at the hub, which through its own development, will generate significant economic uplift to the surrounding area. Therefore, the future development of Waterford City can be directly linked to the future prosperity of the entire South East region, a claim that is recognised under the National Spatial Strategy. The Report calls for the “rapid conclusion of existing initiatives and accelerating new activities to address infrastructural deficits therefore providing a much needed boost to the regional economy.”

Waterford Chamber commends the work already undertaken to amend the “significant physical infrastructural deficiencies” through a significant capital expenditure programme which is already underway. This programme addresses road, rail and air access deficits and President Andrew O’Neill states that “these initiatives are vital to ensure that the Region has the required building blocks for future economic prosperity.”

“The findings of the report reinforce Waterford Chamber’s experience that the South East is underperforming. This is disappointing but not surprising,” says Ms. Monica Leech, Chief Executive of Waterford Chamber. “What we need to concentrate on now are the positive solutions identified in the report and work collaboratively to ensure the South East region is not left behind in terms of economic development.

“The Waterford Chamber has been working hard to attract knowledge based jobs to the region. It is therefore imperative that Government acts quickly and designates WIT as a University, which coupled with a focused action plan, will establish a platform from which the entire South East Region can grow,” said Ms. Leech. “If immediate action is taken to address the remaining physical infrastructural and human capital deficiencies as outlined in the report, Waterford can look forward to a very bright future,” Ms. Leech concluded.

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