Waterford Chamber President Nora Widger re-iterated that the creating of new employment, the retention of existing jobs and the support of local business remained her organisation’s mission statement.
Addressing last Friday’s annual Chamber Dinner at the Tower Hotel, Ms Widger said local business was the cornerstone of the regional economy and on that note, she thanked those who supported the dinner – including McDonald, Dwyer Reddy Insurances and her employer Bank of Ireland, currently hosting their Enterprise Week.
“Job creation and addressing unemployment remain at the top of our agenda and Chamber continues to work with all stakeholders locally and nationally to develop and enhance this region,” she said.
Lobbying for Waterford and the south east is ongoing, she added, and several meetings had been held with Jobs Minister Richard Bruton – with more to follow.
Further foreign direct investment would be welcome, said Ms Widger, and the development of a new advanced factory on the IDA Cork Road site would certainly enhance the area’s overall attractiveness.
“Waterford and the south east should be in receipt of the same aid as other disadvantaged Irish regions when it comes to grants.
“We are the Irish region with the closest proximity to Europe and this is something we should seek to positively exploit, with our Port and Airport both having potentially key roles to play in pursuing such a strategy.”
Referring to a manufacturing conference held in Waterford two months ago, an event organised by Laurent Borla and Tony Power, which was also addressed by Minister Bruton, Nora Widger said much work had been undertaken by stakeholders to promote the region.
“This, coupled with a tourism conference also held this year, along with a range of seminars and events which assist in business networking, are all positive innovations which further promote what Waterford and the south east have to offer.”
She added: “I am confident that the ongoing investment in the Viking Triangle will contribute to the re-birth of Waterford, all of which will serve to make this city a world-class tourist destination.”
The campaign on rates is ongoing, Ms Widger added, while the promotion of a new shopping voucher for Christmas is being developed by Anne Marie Caulfield, while the aspiration of Technological University status remains a drum being steadily beaten.
Training through Skillnets and the promotion of female entrepreneurship remain issues which Waterford Chamber remains steadfastly committed to.
Referring to the David Cullinane-authored report on Jobs, Innovation and Enterprise for the south east, the promotion of trade and tourism with the UK and the exciting plans in store for the city’s 1100th anniversary, Nora Widger said the hard work was ongoing.
“Job creation remains our priority. We have seen Eishtec expand its workforce ; there’s also the success of Rigney Dolphin and its commitment to this city which merits attention here this evening, so I would take this opportunity to encourage other firms to develop, to invest and help make this city stronger.”
Thanking Chief Executive Nick Donnelly, the Chamber’s directors and staff for all their efforts during 2013, Ms Widger concluded: “Together, we can make Waterford a better place to live and work.”