A group of leading Chinese business professionals are to hold high level talks with local authority bosses this week with a view to exploring potential investment opportunies in Longford.
The discussions form part of an invitation brokered earlier this year by Longford Town Cllr James Keogh following earlier exchanges the former Fine Gael representative had with insurance businessman and country singer Padraig Farrell.
On foot of those deliberations, Mr Farrell then made an approach to long term friend and legal expert Christine Lee who is also daughter to local restauranteur Kwok-on-Lee of Longford town establishment ‘The Rising Sun’.
It’s believed Ms Lee’s intervention and association with Longford played a telling part in convincing around a dozen Chinese investors to examine the county’s investment potential.
“Christine and her colleague David Ho are accompanying the investors on the trip,” said Mr Farrell, who has been working on the idea alongside another Longford native Harry Casey and Dubliner Bernard Brogan.
Key players in neighbouring British markets where they have invested heavily, local business representatives are likely to stress recent legislative changes that have greatly enhanced mobilisation patterns domestically.
“Alan Shatter’s Investor Programme launched in early 2012 has paved the way for smoother accessibility for foreign Investment in Ireland,” said Mr Farrell. “Then there is the availability of multi entry visas which are very attractive to them coming here.”
Part of their visit to Longford this week includes talks with representatives from local financial advisory firm RSM Farrell Grant Sparks ahead of similar discussions with council officials later in the evening.
One of those expected to attend, director of services Frank Sheridan, said the chance to engage with such a prominent set of Chinese investors couldn’t have come at a better time.
“We are meeting them that evening in the council chamber where we will hold a couple of presentations and have an informal chat,” he told the Leader on Monday evening.
“The group that are coming to Ireland have a number of engagements and we are fortunate in that they are coming to Longford when will be given an opportunity to explore what their interests are. We will be showing them what benefits Longford does have, one being that it is centrally located and has easy access to the European markets.”
Asked about the chances of securing new found capital and overseas finances to Longford, Mr Sheridan said it was simply too early to tell ahead of any talks taking place
“It’s an opportunity but it’s so important to get that opportunity,” he continued. “Now we have it, it is up to us to make the best use we can of it for the benefit of Co Longford.”