Implementation of County Monaghan Economic Strategy.doc by censhunay

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									Background

Ireland is operating in changed economic times and the response of the Monaghan County

Development Board has been the preparation of an innovative economic strategy which seeks to

drive the economy of the County in the short to medium term. The stated main objective of the

review process was to have an overall vision for economic development in County Monaghan

which was relevant to the current economic climate.



The six key thematic areas critical to the economic development of the county were identified as

Industry, Retail and Services, Food, IT, Training and Education, Tourism and Amenities.

The approach to the development of this economic strategy was based on a process of ‘Scenario

Planning’ during which potential actions/ brainstormed ideas emerged from a series of workshops

involving 40 key stakeholders from the Business sector and senior personnel from relevant state

agencies and the Local Authority. They key to the success of the approach was the need to focus

on putting in place effective and appropriate implementation structures in the form of six Business

Leaders Fora, each comprising 6-7 members and led by a local ‘Champion’ and ‘Facilitator’. The

economic strategy that was developed has the flexibility to effectively respond to the many

possible future scenarios.

In this document, each of the six Business Leaders Fora Champions present their progress to date

and also outline their future plans.




                                                              Gary Carville, Chairperson
                                                    Monaghan County Development Board
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                                                                           Report on Food BLF

                         Existing Structures & Process


                   From June 2010 the Food BLF met every month in the MTEK Building in
                   Monaghan. The meetings were a great platform to hear first-hand how
                   business was going in the County. Contacts and information were shared.
                   Issues and frustrations with Regulations etc were discussed. Paul Shortt
was the Forum Champion while Anne Caldwell was the Facilitator. (See below for list of BLF
members).

The Food BLF has now completed the work programme they set out to do and consideration now
needs to be given as to how and whether they will proceed. In the interim, the Group agreed to
assist the County Development Board in formulating any future strategies/initiatives for the Food
sector in the County.

The main achievement of the BLF was the production of a report on the challenges and
opportunities facing the Food Sector in Monaghan. This report is being made available to the
Economic Development Sub-Committee of the CDB and to Monaghan County Council. The group
stressed that they are anxious that this Report does not ‘sit on the shelf’ but rather forms the basis
of a Strategy for the Food Industry in County Monaghan.


Key Priorities/Actions


In identifying the key priorities of the BLF, the group was guided by the actions, 7 in total, outlined
in the Economic Strategy. The main focus of the BLF was on the following actions: -


   Understand the extent and impact of the food sector to the economic development in Co.
   Monaghan.
   Interact with the main national support agencies to the food industry namely Enterprise
   Ireland and Bord Bia.
   Establish networks and obtain feedback and input from the main stakeholders in the Co
   Monaghan food sector.


Outputs/Achievements


Food Sector overview
The final report from the Food BLF identified a comprehensive overview of the impact of the food
industry to the economic development of Co Monaghan covering the following topics: -

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   Establishing which Food Industries are represented in County Monaghan
   Identifying the Major Food Processors in the County
   Identifying other major processors using inputs and services from County Monaghan(located in
   adjoining counties)
   Collating relevant Statistics
   Gaining an insight into Service Industries & Facilities in Co Monaghan for the Food Industry
   Identifying issues affecting the Food Industry in County Monaghan
   Establishing the factors affecting the attractiveness of County Monaghan for Food Processors
   Highlighting the contribution that the Monaghan Food Industry can bring to Ireland


Funding Applications


The BLF assisted Monaghan County Enterprise Board and Monaghan County Council in putting
together a funding application to INTERREG IVA in conjunction with bordering counties under the
Enterprise Theme seeking funding for a Regional Food Initiative. This is currently being processed
by the SEUPB.

As a result of a need identified in the Food Sector report, Monaghan County Enterprise Board has
submitted an application to Cavan Monaghan LEADER for funding to undertake a Feasibility Study
for providing a Training/R & D Test Kitchen facility in County Monaghan.


Meetings with Key National Food Organisations


Enterprise Ireland Presentation
Jim Mulcahy, Manager, Consumer Foods Division of EI gave a very informative Presentation on the
Consumer Foods sector in Ireland highlighting the potential opportunities for the Food Industry in
County.


Issues discussed at the meeting were as follows:
   Functional foods (Science and food coming together)
   Pet Food (there is a cluster of 9 companies in Ireland)
   Bakeries - Cup Cakes and Muffins


Bord Bia Presentation
Linda Cullen from Bord Bia gave an informative overview of Bord Bia and the supports offered.
Areas covered by Linda were;

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   Bord Bia Vantage Point Programme
   Bord Bia Vantage Plus Programme
   Bord Bia Vantage Partner
   Meath Pilot Project


To be eligible for Bord Bia grant support companies must have a turnover of €100,000, however
companies with less than this turnover may avail of Bord Bia’s Advice and free Workshops.


Future Plans & Opportunities


The Food BLF identified the following recommendation and future actions: -


   Work with Monaghan County Enterprise Board to hold a ‘Meet the Buyer/Trade Fair’ in 2011
   Several meetings have been set up as follows to progress priority actions:


   (1) Meeting the VEC to discuss the possibility of expanding the range of food related courses
       available in MIFET and the new college
   (2) Meeting with Monaghan County Council to discuss the availability of serviced areas for
       hauliers
   (3) Meeting with CEO of Enterprise Ireland to discuss opportunities for the Food Sector in Co
       Monaghan


   In addition, the Food BLF is seeking a meeting with Shane McEntee TD – the Minister of
   State at the Department of Agriculture, Marine and Food with special responsibility for Food,
   Food Safety and Horticulture, to explore the further development of the Food Sector in Co.
   Monaghan
   Depending on the outcome of the current funding applications, there may be initiatives to be
   undertaken as part of these programmes, if successful.




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Paul Shortt says:
“I have found that this exercise has been very fruitful and useful, not just in understanding the
full size of the industry in the County, but also the large dimension of it, the range of processors,
producers and service providers.
Monaghan Inc. has a great opportunity to expand the food industry in the county, and with the
co- operation of the County Council, County Enterprise Board and players in the industry, we
should be able to grow the business in future. County Monaghan is well located for the industry
and with the size of the companies operating in it, and with goodwill from all parties, I see a
bright future going forward. Let us keep the momentum going and get all parties involved”.’


BLF members
Paul Shortt, Champion                               Castlecool
Anne Caldwell, Facilitator                          Enterprise Ireland
Brendan Maguire                                      Grove Turkeys
Vincent Gilhawley                                   Town of Monaghan Co-op
Gerry Mc Mahon                                       Mc Mahon Haulage
Padraig Mc Eneaney                                   Celtic Pure
Conal Murnaghan                                      Teagasc
Patrick Duffy                                        Kozy Shack


Seamus Traynor from the IFA attended the first meeting only. Liam Quilty, Silvercrest Foods and
Steve James of Cargill Integra were asked to participate in the Forum but they never attended.




                                                                                                   5
                                          Report on Tourism & Amenities BLF


                      Existing Structures & Process

                       The BLF has been meeting on a regular basis since its inception and has 11
                       members in total. The group Champion is Julie Gilhooly, and the Facilitator
                       is Dympna Condra. The group has had seven meetings to date with the first
                       meeting being held on 12th July 2010. Attendance has been good with an
average of seven participants at each meeting. Meetings have also taken place with relevant
parties (Failte Ireland, Waterways Ireland, East Border Region Partnership) outside of the BLF
format to progress key actions of concern to the group. (See below for list of BLF members).

The group members have given a commitment to continue on with the group beyond the initial six
month commitment, provided that there are key deliverable actions that can still be undertaken.

Key Priorities/Actions

In total there are fifteen tourism actions and these have been prioritised in terms of whether they
are achievable in the short or long term. The original list of actions was larger but some actions
have been amalgamated because they were similar in focus or deemed more relevant to one of
the other BLFs.

The main focus of the BLF has been on the following actions:

   Marketing of County Monaghan – as a tourism destination and as a place to live and retire.
   Educational awareness of Monaghan Location and what it has to offer both on a National and
   Local level


   Develop themed breaks/packages


   Development of amenity infrastructure – including public parks, fishing, tourism attractions,
   investment in public areas to improve landscaping


   Optimise the current opportunities to develop rural tourism attractions/facilities provided by
   the National Rural Development Programme and EU funding programmes



Other key actions of concern to the group include the following:




                                                                                                 6
   Reduced/minimised local authority business rates


   Lobby for the completion of key roads infrastructure in County Monaghan and in particular
   adjacent to the County’s Towns


Outputs/Achievements

The key focus of the group in the first six months was primarily on marketing and developing
additional marketing/promotional tools for the county.

Facebook Page

Facebook is an important social media site which is used by people to connect and communicate
with friends and colleagues. The group felt that it would be important for Monaghan tourism to
have a presence on this site to share information about what is happening in the county. To this
end a new Facebook page for Monaghan tourism was developed and this is used to highlight
upcoming events in the county and to promote special offers etc. This information can be
accessed on www.facebook.com/monaghantourism. The page was set up with the support of
Aura Internet Services, a Monaghan based company for a nominal fee and a maintenance contract
has been arranged and is implemented through Monaghan County Council.

YouTube Channel

YouTube is a video-sharing website and the group felt that having a presence on the site would
provide an excellent visual presentation of what Monaghan has to offer. As a result of this, a
YouTube channel for Monaghan was also developed where existing videos of facilities, attractions
and events in the county were complied together under one channel to create a profile for
tourism in the county. This information can be accessed on www.youtube.com/monaghantourism.
Monaghan County Council has arranged a maintenance contract to maintain this channel.


Iphone App

The most recent initiative of the group is the development of an Iphone app for tourism and
heritage facilities in the County. An Iphone App or application is a software programme which can
be downloaded directly onto your touchscreen phone and it enables users to have easy access to
information. The Monaghan Tourism app is free to download, and visitors and locals alike can
access up to date information on what to see and do in Monaghan. The BLF felt strongly that this
is the way that information provision is going and Monaghan, to our knowledge, is the first county
to have an app to promote its facilities.

The app cost €12,000 and this was a joint initiative between the Tourism & Heritage sections of
Monaghan County Council. It was developed with the assistance of a Dublin-based company called
Autopilot.

In conjunction with the IT group, the app will be promoted heavily at the Wi-Fi Hotspots around
the county where it will be easy to download.

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An ipad and android version of the app (for smartphones other than Apple) is in the process of
being completed. The group plans to officially launch this shortly.

Relationship building with Failte Ireland

Due to a restructuring of the regions within Failte Ireland, the BLF became aware that Cavan and
Monaghan were being overlooked in terms of regional administration and promotion. As a result
of this, the group lobbied Failte Ireland in order to determine Monaghan’s position within its
regional structures and was successful in this regard. Monaghan will now be promoted through
two destinations – the Lakelands & Inland Waterways initiative and the Dublin’s Doorstep
initiative


Infrastructural Developments

Monaghan County Council has been successful in securing cross-border funding for two major
tourism development projects in the recent past – in Castleblayney and Clones.

   The Castleblayney/South Armagh (CASA) project is in conjunction with Newry & Mourne
   District Council and the total funding for the project is £1.3m stg.


   The Tourism element of the project in Monaghan entails enhancement works at Lough
   Muckno to include roads resurfacing, access improvement to White Island, provision of access
   paths and fishing pegs and the development of a children’s play ground amounting to £520k
   stg.


   The Clones Project (CEEB) is in conjunction with Fermanagh District Council and with Clones
   Development Society and the total funding is €1.68m


   The Monaghan element of the project involves the development of a play-ground and amenity
   park and streetscape enhancement works at Cara Street. Improved interpretation and signage
   at heritage sites and angling development are also entailed. Restaurant facilities at the Canal
   stores will also be enhanced. This amounts to approx €1m.
   Once the projects have commenced, the BLF will be involved in consultations to enable their
   successful delivery.


Monaghan County Council is also in the process of working up a tourism development application
to INTERREG IVA in conjunction with County Monaghan VEC and Craigavon Borough Council to
develop a boathouse, jetty and campsite facility at Tanagh Outdoor Education Centre’s site in
Dartrey Forest which could lever €1m into the County.


                                                                                                8
Future Plans & Opportunities


Promotion of new social media and iphone app

It is extremely important to encourage and promote interaction on the social media sites so as to
generate interest in the tourism facilities in Monaghan. The BLF plans to undertake a number of
promotional initiatives in this regard and also plan to host a launch of the iphone app. This will be
in conjunction with the IT seminar being organised by the IT BLF.

Trade Networking Session

The BLF recognises the fact that there is a lack of interaction and integration between members of
the tourism trade in the county. To counteract this, the group plans to host a Tourism Trade
Networking session at the end of June. This will be co-hosted by Failte Ireland and the rationale is
for the tourism providers in Monaghan to get to know the other tourism providers in the county,
with a view to developing market-led product offerings, which will encourage more tourism
business to County Monaghan.

This initiative will be followed by organised Familiarisation Trips in a Know your Region type
initiative.

Identify further opportunities for funding

   Lobby for local tourism improvements in terms of signage, interpretation and roads
   infrastructure


   Identify and exploit opportunities arising out of the re-opening of the Ulster Canal



Julie Gilhooly says:

“I feel that as a result of my experience I have become aware at the lack of local input to tourism
decisions made by Failte Ireland with regard to our area. Also I have seen first hand the lack of
importance attached to counties like Monaghan by Failte Ireland. Therefore it is very important
that we have in place at local level a committee who will try to ensure that we get our fair share
of whatever funding and support is available because if not we will finish up in the situation we
found ourselves when this committee was set up - in no mans land!

I also feel that we have got to lobby at both a national and local level to try and stop the decay
in our towns. For example in Castleblayney, and to a lesser extent in the other towns in
Monaghan there are so many closed up shops and buildings in total disrepair which makes these
towns very unattractive to visitors. We should use all our influence to get the derelict look taken
from Hope Castle and surrounds, and the Courthouse building. I understand the lack of funding
available, but we must be aware of the importance of our towns and villages having an


                                                                                                   9
attractive appearance in order to attract visitors, but we should be making a huge effort to bring
our concerns to the attention of the powers that be, and raise awareness of this problem.

We should support both financially and otherwise local festivals, and encourage the people
running them to use our Facebook page and app to publicise their events as they do bring much
needed revenue to the towns involved”.



BLF members


Julie Gilhooly, Champion                           The Nuremore Hotel
Dympna Condra, Facilitator                         Monaghan County Council
Frank Mc Eneaney                                   Westenra Arms Hotel
Donal Mc Guigan                                    Lough Muckno Waterski & Wakeboarding
                                                   Club/ A Healthy Choice Spa & Clinic
Gerry Darby                                        Clones Regeneration
Somhairle Mac Conghail                             Monaghan County Council
Patrick Mc Fadden                                  The Glencarn Hotel
Michelle Forester                                  Tanagh Outdoor Education Centre
Mary Mullen                                        Knockatallon Development Association
Helen Brennan                                      HB Hotel Consultancy
Paddy Sherry                                       Knockatallon Rambers




                                                                                               10
                                          Report on Education & Training BLF


                             Existing Structures & Process

                             The BLF has been meeting on a regular basis since its inception and
                             has six members in total. The group Champion is Fern Heasty and the
                             facilitator is Patricia Monahan. The group has had seven meetings to
                             date, with the first meeting being held on 13th July 2010. Attendance
                             has been good with an average of four participants at each meeting.
Meetings have also taken place with relevant parties (Qualifax & FAS) outside of the BLF format to
progress key actions of concern to the group. (See below for list of BLF members).

The next meeting is scheduled for 31st May.

Key Priorities/Actions

In total there are sixteen actions, but all hinge on the survey/questionnaire which is currently in
progress.

The main focus of the BLF has been on the following four actions:

   Design and implementation of a 20 question survey/training need analysis for the employers in
   the county to gain background on the future requirements for their business in terms of skills


   Setting up of a focus group including private and public training providers


   Organisation of a series of ‘Meet the Entrepreneur’ days in conjunction with local secondary
   schools


   Developing on-line information resource called monaghanonline.ie



Outputs/Achievements

Employer Database
The key focus of the group in the first six months was to develop a comprehensive database where
we could email employers online to gauge skills required. This has now been completed and
contains approximately 800 entries with email addresses.

Training Analysis Survey




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We have developed a questionnaire which is currently on surveymonkey.com and it is now at the
pilot stage. The output of the questionnaire will provide us with key information on the following:

   Current training needs of businesses
   Their future requirements for the next three years
   Gaps in training provision
   Difficulties businesses have in terms of recruiting specialised skills locally
   Difficulties businesses have in terms of awareness of and accessing local training programmes


Meeting with Key National Organisations

Since its inception the group has met the following people:

John McGrath, Manager of the Skills & Labour Market Research Unit from FAS (Baggot Street)
attended several meetings of the group to aid the setup of the questionnaire and his department
has very kindly agreed to analyse the results and provide comparisons at a national level.

Brian Mooney, Founder of Qualifax – an online resource for people interested in attending training
courses, attended one meeting with the BLF. He provided good insight into the management of
such a resource and this will be valuable when the monaghanonline.ie website is being set up.


Future Plans & Opportunities

Focus Group – The BLF wishes to set up a focus group comprising of parties involved in the
delivery of training programmes, both in the public and private sector. The rationale behind this is
to generate awareness of the results of the questionnaire and ensure that changes are
implemented as required by businesses in the county.

Entrepreneur Day – This is a valuable opportunity for transition year and possibly 5 th year students
to meet and hear local entrepreneurs, who may be their potential employers should they chose to
return to the county to work. The local entrepreneurs will inform them of their future plans in
terms of skills required, expected growth areas, what their business can offer employees and what
they, as employers seek in their staff.

Monaghan online – This will be an online resource that employers, employees and potential
employees can use. It will feature recruitments possibilities, outline what a particular employer
requires as a minimum level of skills, and list the training opportunities that are available locally,
including details of when and where.

Identify further opportunities for funding

Some of the above initiatives will require a level of funding as the group believes that
monaghanonline.ie will be a standalone resource. The BLF in conjunction with the relevant
support agencies will need to identify opportunities for funding to progress this further.



                                                                                                   12
Fern Heasty says:

“Personally I found this to be a very beneficial experience in terms of meeting the external
advisors, building relationships with the other members in the BLF and learning best practice
from two international companies in our forum, namely Computershare and Monaghan
Mushrooms. Being busy business people it’s difficult to keep the momentum going but the
survey will reignite the energy in the group and will provide us with the necessary information to
undertake our key actions and see outcomes progressing to fruition”.


BLF members


Fern Heasy, Champion                               Fern Heasty Solutions Ltd.
Patricia Monahan, Facilitator                      County Monaghan VEC
Tara Wilson                                        Monaghan Mushrooms
Noel Kellett                                       Computershare
Jimmy Mc Geogh                                     Monaghan Education Centre
Margaret Cranney                                   FAS




                                                                                               13
                                                                        Report on IT BLF
                         Existing structures & process

                         The BLF has been meeting on a regular basis since its inception and has 11
                         members in total.

                     The group Champion is Claire Cunningham and the Facilitator is Kevin
McNally. The group has had seven meetings to date with the first meeting being held on 3 rd July
2010.

Attendance has been good with an average of seven participants at each meeting. Meetings have
also taken place with relevant parties (Hibernian Atlantic, Department of Communications, Energy
and Natural Resources) outside of the BLF format to progress key actions of concern to the group.
(See below for list of BLF members).

The group members have given a commitment to continue on with the group beyond the initial six
month commitment, provided that there are key deliverable actions that can still be undertaken.


Key Priorities/Actions

The original list as contained in the formal strategy document contained seven actions as outlined
below:

   1. Identify areas that require telecommunications infrastructure or up grade - set a target for
       level and type of broadband


   2. Launch IT education programmes for schools


   3. Promote the benefits of IT technologies, Project Kelvin and the MAN’s


   4. Network the Enterprise Centres


   5. Directory listing of all funding opportunities for companies in Monaghan - based on the
       notion that we think the information is out there on the internet, we just need to provide a
       link to them.


   6. Establish WiFi spots


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   7. Develop a website to collect information from other support agencies relating to
       compliance and grant opportunities for County Monaghan


These actions have been amalgamated to form two key actions either because they were similar in
focus or deemed more relevant to one of the other BLFs.

The two amalgamated actions are as detailed below:

   1. Promote the use/benefits of Broadband and provide awareness on available services


       During discussions it was considered that there was a lack of awareness and knowledge
       within the County regarding Broadband infrastructure and what the available services can
       offer e.g. people even within the group were not aware of the Metropolitan Area Networks
       (MANs) project, or Project Kelvin.


   2. Identify areas that require telecommunications infrastructure upgrade - set a target for
       level and type of broadband


       E.g. Carrickmacross MAN has not got any alternative backhaul. Large areas of County
       Monaghan have poor or little broadband service.


Outputs/Achievements

   Establishment of mycountyforum.com. The purpose of this forum is to facilitate and encourage
   discussion regarding the lack/availability of Broadband within the County. Information on any
   initiatives being launched by the Government is also available.
   The BLF has been working with DkIT and VEC to encourage the use of Moodle by more schools
   in the County. Moodle (http://moodle.dkit.ie) is a software e-learning platform, designed to
   help educators create online programmes with opportunities for rich interaction. The use of
   open source software, as opposed to a purchased platform as used in other ITs (such as
   Blackboard, WebCT, etc.) has led to both cost-effectiveness and the tailoring of the software to
   meet the needs of the staff and students of the Institute.
   Development of WiFi spots and publicity signs/stickers for highlighting presence of WiFi spot.
   This initiative enables people to access internet on the go and further enhances awareness of
   the availability of Broadband within the area. The Internet Service Provider (ISP) which is

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responsible for the delivery of the National Broadband Scheme, 3, sponsored the WiFi spot
that is available in Castleblayney Enterprise Centre. This sponsorship was obtained via the IT
BLF.
The IT BLF organised information meetings in Clones with local businesses and e|net. e|net is
the management services entity appointed by the government to operate the MANs in the
County. These meetings further highlighted the fact that local businesses are not aware of the
level of infrastructure available in their area. Unfortunately, costings received to date for
connections are not economically attractive. This is a matter that the IT BLF are continuing to
address.
Application for funding under the INTERREG Programme to provide alternative backhaul for
Carrickmacross and Clones. The IT BLF is working in partnership with Fermanagh District
Council and Monaghan County Enterprise Board to develop this submission. The proposal
involves the extension of Project Kelvin from Monaghan to Clones to Lisnakea to Enniskillen. It
is also proposed to extend Project Kelvin to Carrickmacross.
Meeting in Monaghan between e|net and Adrian Corrigan (CNI) regarding connection to St.
Macartans College and possible offering of MAN service to greater Monaghan Urban area.
Adrian Corrigan is now seeking licence from Comreg to become an Internet Service Provider.
The Council has suggested to Adrian that he investigate the possibility of using the Water
Tower at St. Davnets to provide service to St. Macartans and also to Monaghan town. This
may open up the possibility (if successful) that improved service could be offered to areas
outside the Monaghan urban area.
Meeting with Department regarding the provision of backhaul for Carrickmacross. The IT BLF
has obtained costings and developed proposals,
The ISPs in the area have been contacted to determine infrastructure within county and
process of mapping this information has begun. This information will assist to identify areas of
the County without adequate Broadband service and the development of possible solutions to
resolve this problem.
The IT BLF has met with the Director of Yahoo responsible for sourcing sites for Data Centres in
Europe, Middle East and Africa. This meeting was beneficial and identified what was required
for Monaghan to compete with large population centres such as Dublin.
Placing of adverts in the local press and local radio etc seeking information from public about
lack of Broadband. This information is being used to build up data base regarding the
broadband deficits in the county.

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Future Plans & Opportunities

Rural Broadband Scheme
Placing of adverts in the local press and local radio etc seeking information from public about lack
of Broadband. This information is being used to build up a database regarding the Broadband
deficits in the county.

This scheme has recently been launched by the Department of Communications, Energy and
Natural Resources to enable a basic Broadband service to be provided to individual rural premises
which are not capable of obtaining a Broadband service from existing internet service providers.

The Scheme has been set up in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture as a measure
under the Rural Development Plan using funding from the European Agriculture Fund for Rural
Development.

The IT BLF is assisting with publication of this initiative. Adverts have been placed in the Local
Press/Radio. Details are available on MCC web site. Information leaflets have been circulated to
all schools in the relevant areas.

There will be a number of phases in the Scheme. This first phase involves inviting and processing
applications. The Department will be accepting applications from 9 May 2011 until 29 July 2011.


Promotion of IT in County Monaghan

   Broadband In County Monaghan – Seminar in September 2011 to generate awareness and
   positive media for Monaghan. This is currently being advanced.
   Mapping System of Broadband in Co. Monaghan. Identification of blackspots being recorded.
   Service providers to be contacted with regards to infrastructure information. When received, it
   will be mapped using GIS. Work is continuing on this initiative.
   Arrange further Town meetings with e|net in order to highlight available service and
   determine what costings area




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Claire Cunningham says:

“The setting up of the IT BLF was a great opportunity to pull interested parties together to focus
on IT development and awareness within the County. It provided a forum to discuss the IT issues
and progress is being made in addressing them”.


BLF Members

   Claire Cunningham, Champion                     Aura Internet Services
   Kevin Mc Nally, Facilitator                     Monaghan County Council
   Ray Quinn                                       MIFET
   Niall Beirne                                    e|net
   Liam Mc Carron                                  County Monaghan VEC
   Dr. Cornelia Connolly                           DkIT
   Paul Treanor                                    Monaghan County Council
   Tommy Maguire                                   Castleblayney Enterprise
   Fiona Darcy                                     3G
   Ben Kelly                                       MIFET
   Seamus Treanor                                  Astec POS




                                                                                               18
                                                               Report on Industry BLF


                         Existing Structures & Process

                        The BLF has been meeting on a regular basis since its inception and has nine
                        members in total. The group Champion is Martin Mc Vicar from Combilift
and the Facilitator is Briege Quinn from Monaghan County Enterprise Board. The group has had
seven meetings to date with the first meeting being held on 18 th June 2010. Attendance has been
relatively good with an average of five participants at each meeting. The group started with six
members, however in order to strengthen the forum three additional members were asked to
join. (See below for list of BLF members).

The group members have given a commitment to continue on with the group beyond the initial six
month commitment, to pursue some of the actions that had been initially identified and to
capitalise on some new opportunities that have risen in conjunction with some of the other Fora.


Key Priorities/Actions

Initially there were 32 industry actions identified in the action planning workshops. The members
of the industry BLF went through these and prioritised 18 actions to be addressed within the initial
six month period with a review thereafter. These 18 actions were further distilled into 9
overarching objectives, combining actions of similar themes. It was recognised that there would
be some overlapping with the other BLF’s as the term ‘industry’ was very wide, therefore the
group decided to focus on those actions that would have the most impact and be achievable in the
short term.

The main focus of the BLF has been on the following actions:

   Identify a specific ‘niche’ area that could be exploited for the purpose of creating jobs in
   County Monaghan. As various reports have identified growth in the ‘Green Economy’ the
   group put together a presentation around the topic to explore the potential further.


   Pursue appropriate inward investment in an area that Monaghan could demonstrate it has the
   infrastructure and/or the expertise for.


   Provide supports and programmes to encourage new businesses to start and to help existing
   businesses in County Monaghan.




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   Provide companies with a comprehensive list of funding supports available and the criteria on
   eligibility.


Another key area of concern to the group included trying to ensure that Monaghan becomes a low
cost business location through;

   Lobbying for a rates exemption for new businesses starting for the first year.

   Lobbying for a reduction in Development Levies.


Outputs/Achievements

The Green Economy

The key focus of the group in the first three months was identifying the ‘Green Economy’ as a
niche area in which to create jobs.

It has been recognised that the ‘Green Economy’ has the potential to make a significant
contribution to Ireland’s economy by creating employment and export opportunities in areas such
as renewable energy, energy efficiency and consultancy, waste management, recovery and
recycling and water and waste water treatment.

The value of the Irish market was conservatively estimated by Forfás at 2.8 billion in 2008 with
predictions for further rapid growth. This growth had the potential to create approximately
80,000 jobs in this sector over the coming years. The group wanted to explore the possibilities of
some of these jobs being created in Monaghan and therefore decided to organise a number of
presentations by experts in this sector. The objective was to provide some guidance on how
Monaghan could tap into this potential and what types of jobs could be created and supported.

The presentations took place on 7th September 2010 with speakers from SEAI, Forfás and DKIT.
The turnout was slightly disappointing and therefore it was agreed that we would consider re-
running the presentations. This time we would incorporate a number of exemplar projects
identified in Austria that businesses in Monaghan could consider replicating with appropriate
advice and assistance.

Inward Investment

Food

There is a separate forum for ‘Food’ as it is a strong sector in County Monaghan. Although the
Food Forum are focused on the needs of the Food Industry, this forum wanted to ensure that it
considered the areas that could potentially attract inward investment. Monaghan as a location,
together with the superior infrastructure and skills/knowledge base in this area makes the food
industry an ideal sector to pursue for inward investment.

The Industry BLF is working with the Food BLF to pull together all the information on infrastructure
into one document that can be used as a tool to help promote the county for investment. A

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meeting has been arranged with those in Enterprise Ireland who have the remit of food both in
terms of Foreign Direct Investment and the Indigenous Sector. This is the first stage of creating
awareness and selling the benefits of Monaghan as a location.

IT

Recent meetings have focused on the superior infrastructure Monaghan has in terms of
Broadband, Project Kelvin fibre optic line and redundant electrical supply previously mentioned.
This infrastructure together with its location, places Monaghan in a strong position to attract
investment in Data Centres, an area that is increasing in demand due to the expansion of ‘cloud
computing’. This is also an area that could provide indigenous opportunities as well as inward
investment.

A project has been submitted to INTERREG which includes funding for a Data Centre in Monaghan,
however it may take up to six months for the outcome of this application. The group have
therefore decided to put together a business case for locating Data Centres in County Monaghan
and from this business case, pursue other potential applications for funding.

There is also the opportunity to use this business case to attract inward investment from the large
IT companies who are currently trying to find additional locations for data centres. The Industry
BLF will liaise with the IT BLF in pursuit of this goal.

Funding Material

The group identified that there are a number of new government initiatives coming on stream to
support businesses in the current environment. These include new lines of credit, reducing costs
for businesses, supporting the use of new technology and innovation and a new internship scheme
to create employment In addition to this the group identified that there is some confusion as to
what existing funding opportunities are available to businesses and how and where it can be
accessed. The forum is anxious that businesses in County Monaghan would be made aware of the
all the available schemes and be in a position to optimise their use. The forum is therefore
bringing this information together in one document to provide companies with a comprehensive
list of all funding supports and incentives available from all sources. Once this document is
completed it will be printed and provided to all agencies and other relevant stakeholders so that it
is easily accessible to businesses. It can also be uploaded onto relevant agency websites.


Future Plans & Opportunities

Monaghan as a low cost location to Start up or Expand business

The BLF recognises that costs are one of the major factors affecting businesses in County
Monaghan. The BLF therefore are looking at how rates and development levies applicable in the
County could be restructured or reduced to help businesses overcome this major barrier. The BLF
hope to come up with some alternatives to the current systems and make recommendations to
the County Council.




                                                                                                 21
Providing Supports and Programmes to start ups and existing businesses

The BLF through working with the relevant agencies will recommend programmes required by
industry. For example the group have recognised that there are a significant number of
unemployed professionals for whom the standard ‘Start your Own Business’ programmes are not
applicable. They have identified a programme called ‘Discovery Zone’ a 12-week programme
designed to assist these experienced professionals to develop new ideas, start a new business or
explore ways in which they can use their skills, experience and talents to exploit commercial
opportunities. This programme was developed by the Regional Development Centre of Dundalk
Institute of Technology in conjunction with Cork Institute of Technology.

Identify further opportunities for funding

The BLF will continue to look for opportunities for funding to support industry in Monaghan. A
number of applications have already been submitted through the various cross border groups by
the relevant agencies in Monaghan.


Martin Mc Vicar says:

“This has been a great opportunity to bring together those with an interest in developing
industry in the County. There has been a great commitment from the group to look at the
factors that are affecting business, and discuss initiatives that could help address these issues.
Great headway has been made to date and by building relationships with the other Business
Leaders Fora there is the potential for further progress. If we all focus on what will make an
Impact, business will grow in the County and offer great job opportunties for us & our children in
future”.

BLF members

Martin Mc Vicar, Champion                          Combilift
Briege Quinn, Facilitator                          Monaghan County Enterprise Board
Rita Shah                                          Shabra Group
Pat Mc Adam                                        BOSE Ireland
Sean Mc Entee                                      DkIT
Elaine Halpin                                      Cavan Monaghan Leader
Liam Murray                                        Cased Dimensions
Philip Mc Kenna                                    Truwood
Michael Buckley                                    DkIT Postgraduate Student




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                                             Report on Retail and Services BLF


                     Existing Structures & Process


The Retail & Services BLF has been meeting on a fairly regular basis since its inception and has
eight members in total. The group Champion is Charlie Mc Guinness and the Facilitator is Dympna
Condra. The group has had six meetings to date with the first meeting being held on 30 th June
2010. The attendance has been good with an average of six participants at each meeting. (See
below for list of BLF members).


To progress key actions of concern to the group separate meetings have been held outside of the
BLF format with relevant parties; -


   Dundalk Town Centre Manager
   East Border Region re: INTERREG IVA
   Armagh City & District Council
   North South Ministerial Council



Key Priorities/Actions
While there were a total of 27 Retail & Services/Industry actions identified in the original action
plan a large number of these fell more under the remit of the Industry BLF.


The main focus of the Retail & Services BLF has been on the following actions:


   Support Monaghan to become a low-cost business location
   Engage local businesses to work collaboratively to develop trade
   Explore the potential for the creation of Business Improvement Districts in each town


Other key actions of concern to the group include the following:


   Reduced/ Minimised local authority business rates

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   Investigate special arrangements regarding credit provision – e.g. a local enterprise fund
   initiative


Outputs/Achievements
The key focus of the Retail & Services BLF was primarily on researching Best Practice and
innovative initiatives in other counties/towns so as to encourage local town councils to emulate
these in Co. Monaghan.


   The group investigated stimulus packages in other areas such as the Shop Front improvement
   Scheme running in Cavan and the Business Incentive Scheme running in Dundalk. Based on
   these initiatives the group presented a proposal to Monaghan Town Council for consideration
   and are currently waiting on a response.
   The group investigated stimulus packages in other areas such as the Shop Front improvement
   Scheme running in Cavan and the Business Incentive Scheme running in Dundalk. Based on
   these initiatives the group presented a proposal to Monaghan Town Council for consideration
   and are currently waiting on a response.
   The group also proposed pilot initiatives in terms of parking etc for Monaghan Town which was
   also submitted to Monaghan Town Council and are still awaiting a response.
   The group explored the possibility of a cross-border Town Centre Enhancement application in
   conjunction with Armagh City & District Council to be submitted as a long-term action to
   INTERREG IVA under the Collaboration measure. This is a work in progress as the measure has
   not yet opened.
   In conjunction with the IT BLF the Retail & Services BLF facilitated the rolled-out of the WiFi
   Hot Spot initiative.
   The Retail & Services BLF held several meetings with Zapa Technology in relation to the roll-out
   of an electronic Gift Card scheme as is in operation in Dundalk with a view to undertaking a
   similar initiative in Monaghan Town. This is a work in progress.


Future Plans


The future plans for the Retail & Services BLF include an expansion of the Taste of Monaghan Food
Festival. The group would like to work in conjunction with the Food BLF to expand the number of
food producers involved in this initiative.


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Progress a possible INTERREG IVA funding application for Town Centre enhancement schemes for
Monaghan and Carrickmacross under the Collaboration theme in conjunction with our cross-
border partners.

Explore the possibility of getting a student on the FAS Graduate Placement programme to provide
full-time administration support and act as a conduit for all six BLFs.

The Retail & Services BLF will continue to work on identifying initiatives that will reverse the drift
away from towns in Co. Monaghan as primary shopping locations.

The group is happy to co-operate with the other BLFs in the implementation of other economic
development initiatives.


Charlie Mc Guinness says:


“While the progress of the Retail & Services BLF has been slow and at times frustrating, some
progress has been made and is on-going. As the process has developed, new opportunities were
identified such as the Ulster Canal and local festivals, and the Retail & Services BLF would like to
prioritise these and work in conjunction with the Tourism & Amenities BLF to progress them.


I also believe that having a staff member from Monaghan Town Council to participate in the
Retail BLF would be a welcome addition.”


BLF members
Charlie Mc Guinness                          Monaghan Chamber of Commerce
Dympna Condra                                Monaghan County Council
Robbie Healy                                 Flemings Supervalu
Michelle Mc Anenly                           Esprit/ INKA
Fances Matthews                              Carrickmacross Town Council
Dermot Maguire                               Maguire International
Jim Hand                                     Hand Footware/ Carrickmacross Chamber of
                                             Commerce
John Bogue                                   Bogues Ford Garage




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