Destination Athlone has welcomed the Project Ireland 2040 NPF announcement confirming that Athlone would be designated as a Regional Centre for the midlands.
This is a development of major significance for the entire midlands and will prove to be a critical step in the attraction of Foreign Direct Investment into the region.
This very welcome news vindicates the collaborative approach adopted by the stakeholders in the midlands region who took part in the application process and if such was required it provides clear evidence that working together is the most effective way to develop our region.
Destination Athlone was originally set up as a forum to facilitate and encourage collaboration between the principle stakeholders.
A steering group was put in place and a marketing company was incorporated and commenced the work involved in building best in class digital platforms for promoting the area.(www.athlone.ie)
With the benefit of international research, it quickly became apparent that in order to attract Foreign Direct Investment for employment and substantial visitor numbers for Tourism, it would be necessary to create a cohesive region of scale and this region would traverse traditional boundaries both geographical and political.
When the NPF invited submissions from regions, the stakeholders all provided the funding to engage experts and assemble a submission which reflected the groups ambitions of creating a major cohesive region of scale.
MOLA architecture and Future Analytics Ltd were tasked with the job of studying the existing stats for the region and providing data based evidence for the growth which could be achieved in the region between now and 2040.
The report envisaged Athlone as the regional Centre for the Midlands having a necklace of Towns, Roscommon, Longford, Mullingar, Tullamore Birr and Ballinasloe linked to Athlone and to one another and all growing and prospering as a result of the collaborative approach to developing the overall region.
DESTINATION ATHLONE COLLABORATION OF STAKEHOLDERS
Destination Athlone currently consists of Westmeath, Roscommon & Longford Local Authorities, All of the major employers in Industry and Business, Hotels & Hospitality, AIT, IDA, Fáilte Ireland, Waterways Ireland and Chamber Of Commerce.
John O’Sullivan of Hodson Bay Group who is Chair of the steering group has this to say following last week's announcement
“This is a very progressive step for the Midland Region. The recognition of Athlone as a Regional Centre is essential towards ensuring that future investment is pointing towards the Midlands as well as the other centres named in the NPF.
The challenge facing us now is to bring everybody on board and provide clear evidence that this is about the towns of Mullingar, Tullamore, Longford, Roscommon, Ballinasloe, Birr and the many other smaller towns in the region. We need everybody to work together and develop a cohesive region of scale.
Anyone who doubts whether this can be achieved should have a look at how it was achieved in Lyon which over a period of 30 years transformed itself from being a neglected region overshadowed by Paris into the “go to” region in France for FDI and Tourism.”
This was achieved by the various stakeholders in the region working together in a collaborative manner,
Mr O'Sullivan acknowledged and thanked the stakeholders for the work and effort, Destination Athlone has played a pivotal role in enabling the collective voice and vision of the key public and private stakeholders to be represented through the “Athlone 2040” submission. “This has been an excellent example of cross county collaboration, and thankfully in this case, a very successful one. One behalf of Destination Athlone and its members, we are extremely proud but in reality our work is only starting if the counties and towns in the midlands working together are to seize this opportunity which the NPF presents to benefit all in the region.”
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