A joint meeting by members of Longford Town and Co Council to discuss future business development in Longford town last Wednesday night ended with an agreement to put the matter on the agenda of the next Co council meeting with a view to establishing a sub committee that would examine the matter further. It also emerged during proceedings that 25% of the population of Co Longford is now unemployed.
The meeting which was held by the two local authorities aimed to address the lack of investment in Longford town by government agencies and to explore all options available for both development and investment in the months and years ahead.
“What we want to achieve here today is ways by which we can attract investment into the county and how we can heighten the profile of Co Longford,” County Manager, Tim Caffrey told the meeting.
CEO, Co Longford Enterprise Board, Michael Nevin then provided a very insightful presentation on the business potential of the county.
“Abbott, Pat the Baker, C&D foods, GEM, Glennon Brothers and many more very highly established companies have come to Longford,” he said. “But the real question is - going forward - how do we define Longford as an investment location? Do we need to rebrand Longford? Can we create or increase pride in our county? The Business Forum has gotten together and put some material together on this very issue.”
It was Frank Sheridan, Director of Services, Longford Co Council who underlined the high employment in the county. “24.7% of the population in Co Longford are unemployed,” he said.
“There are many companies here in Longford that are creating employment and it is important not to forget that,” he added. “Infrastructure, amenities, quality of life, co-operation and the promotion and support of economic activity are vital for investment and rates decreases, free parking promotions and support for festivals are just a number of ways in which we can address this.”
Cll Paul Connell (Ind) who first mooted a meeting of both authorities to discuss the matter then pointed out that there was nothing new emerging from the presentations before him.
“There is absolutely nothing new in this,” he fumed. “The presentations were more about what we have done and not what about we are going to do. From this day forward we are going to have to look at a new Longford.”
Members of both local authorities then voiced their concerns over the current situation in the county town and also pointed to many areas that bore potential including the county’s walkways, waterways and central geographical location. “Accommodation is a big problem in Longford town and look what happened in Carrick-on-Shannon when the Landmark Hotel was built - the town began to boom,” Cllr Michael Carrigy (FG) added. “ People are not going to come to a place where there is nowhere to stay and it is as simple as that.”