Dylan Vaughan

Tánaiste Mary Coughlan speaking at the ‘Innovate to Compete’ National Conference at the Tower Hotel in Waterford on Friday last. | Photo: Dylan Vaughan

The regional and national business community must continue to show extraordinary resilience through this unprecedented economic period: that was the assessment offered by Tánaiste Mary Coughlan in Waterford on Friday last.

Speaking at Waterford Chamber’s ‘Innovate to Compete’ conference, which drew pension seeking Waterford Crystal workers to the hotel’s lobby, Ms Coughlan struck a positive note, replicated by several other speakers at the event.

“There is no template or guidebook for ploughing through the sort of scenarios that are arising at present,” said Ms Coughlan, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

“One huge asset in our favour is the great resilience and resourcefulness of our people.

“Rather than rolling over in the face of obstacles, Irish people are adept at finding solutions and that is evident from the range of innovative ideas being brought forward to tackle the current economic crisis at a local, regional and national level.”

Minister Coughlan said that a failure to address today’s responsibilities would leave future generations “paying a crippling price”.

She added: “Inaction and failure to tackle the budget deficit – what might be called the ‘ostrich strategy’ – is simply not an option if we are to avoid prolonged recession accompanied by growing long-term unemployment.”

The Tánaiste also launched a new Waterford business website on Friday last – www.waterfordbusinessinfo.ie, which has been created to promote the city to potential global investors.

“The website has been developed as an online one-stop-shop promoting entrepreneurship and will be of immense value to the business community,” said Mayor Jack Walsh.

“I am confident Waterford’s national and international profile will be significantly improved as a result of the hard work and innovation shown by the members of the working group in designing and launching this initiative.”

The event was co-organised by the City Council and Waterford Chamber, with outgoing Chamber CEO Monica Leech delighted with the tone the conference struck.

“The business community at the moment is frequently being told that we need to be more innovative and that we need to think smarter,” she said.

“It’s not about inventions, it’s about every day businesses looking at themselves and asking – how can I do this differently? How can I do this better?”

Ms Leech added: “The current climate requires us to become more innovative in our business strategies in order to compete in the marketplace.

“We have to be committed to a high level of investment in innovation in all its forms with the aim of making Ireland a dynamic, knowledge-driven economy. This requires that we return to sustainable growth fuelled by our capacity to trade competitively, by offering the world competitive and innovative products and services.”