Limerick’s Directly Elected Mayor and the Public, have got a vital role to play together, to engineer a recovery from what has been a devastating year of lockdowns, death tolls and debt tolls.
Despite the challenging situation at present, there are many positive developments unfolding which should be emphasised. Limerick is set to become the Gateway to Fáilte Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, Adare will host the Ryder Cup in 2027 and Limerick is strategically positioned to win Foreign Direct Investment in the aftermath of Brexit.
However, before we begin putting resources toward selling ourselves on the International Stage, I believe we must first invest in our own communities. Economic success must be complemented by a high standard of living, accessible to all people in Limerick City & County. We cannot continue to be completely reliant on Foreign Direct Investment for jobs and should do more to promote a balance with indigenous SME’s and new business start-ups.
Below are some positive Local Business stories which blossomed despite the pandemic. A new resurgence in civic pride has been coupled with greater support for Local Business and Industry. People have grown a new appreciation for Local History, their Local Environment and Local Business. Perhaps all we need to bring about an economic recovery is a civic and cultural re-discovery ?
New businesses, new beginnings:
Neighbourhood food celebrates one year in business at The Milk Market on the 26th of March 2021. This innovative business makes it easier for people to purchase food straight from Local producers in and around Limerick. Supporting Local Business is vital, not only to help them out in a difficult time, but also to keep money flowing within our Local Economy.
Another success story is that of Aoife McNamara, a LSAD fashion graduate who launched her own fashion label and shop in Adare.
Other businesses that opened during the Pandemic include a new brewery called Crew Brew, a pizza parlour called DOH pizza, Wickham Way, Mary’s Sweet Memories in Abbeyfeale and my very own shop called Re:Story in the Milk Market to name but a few.
Many entrepreneurs have identified the current upheaval as an opportunity to transition toward more sustainable ways of doing business.
The old transactional form of retail has been replaced almost entirely by online shopping and perhaps it is time to consider new forms experiential retail, whereby customers are offered an experience they cannot get online.
Public Realm investment by our Council in Urban Centres across the County will be play a key role in making high street shopping more attractive again.
Local Employment is Local Empowerment:
There are many things a Mayor can do to help stimulate employment in a Post-Covid Economy.
An EU Directive on Social Procurement, was launched in 2014 and encouraged Local Authorities to prioritise local companies to boost employment. I believe we need to follow this Directive and give preference to Limerick based Companies when awarding public contracts.