Just some of the many dignitaries who were in attendance for last weekend's Longford Business Expo 2018
Longford is very much open for business.
It may sound like an oft overused cliché, but it was one which undeniably summed up how far the county’s fiscal fortunes have come since the 2008 economic crash as it played host to a two day Business Exhibition at the newly rebranded Riverside Shopping Centre last weekend.
More than 100 firms were there as were some of the leading luminaries from the local and national commercial arena, all with one overriding goal in mind-to showcase Longford as a dynamic and preeminent location in which to do business.
“As much as today is about networking and meeting other businesses it’s also about seeing the still largely untapped potential of our town,” said a buoyant Longford Chamber of Commerce President Niamh Donlon.
She said it was especially fitting to see a two day business spectacle of its type return to what was the original “beating heart” of Longford town.
Warm sentiments were in ample supply too, evidenced by various messages of indebtedness to Longford County Council, Local Enterprise Office personnel and Longford Community Resources (LCRL) for bringing about last weekend’s event.
Its hosts, the new owners of the once vacant Longford Shopping Centre, Omniplex, were likewise singled out for special adulation as Ms Donlon referred to the renewed focus both Omniplex and local authority chiefs had in rejuvenating the Camlin Quarter-one of the county town’s oldest economic districts.
“It is hugely heartening to see the emphasis on the river as we only have to look down the road to Carrick-On-Shannon to see how the fortunes were changed from planning and the commercial focus switched to the waterside,” she said.
“For too long we have turned our back on our greatest resource.”
Longford Municipal District Cathaoirleach Cllr Seamus Butler harked back to his many years in business as he imparted some timely advice to those looking to breathe new life into their own enterprises.
“Unless you have a unique selling experience that can’t be done elsewhere you simply won’t make it,” he resolutely remarked.
“Business has changed and it has changed radically.
“There is a cliché definition of madness in continually doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
“You have to stop doing the same thing in retail if you want to survive.”
Mark Christal, Manager of Enterprise Ireland Regions and Entrepreneurship Division and Tom Parlon, Director General of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) also took to their feet in illustrating the economy’s present day challenges in the lead up to this month’s Budget.
But perhaps the most taking declaration belonged to the Chamber President as she underlined the rationale behind Longford Business Expo 2018.
“It’s about celebrating our successes but it’s also about encouraging more businesses to launch here or locate to Longford.
“We know there isn’t a better place to live, to work or a better place to launch a business than Longford but heretofore we have been far too slow in selling that message.”
Maybe, just maybe that message is one Longford’s business community and its 40,000 strong populace are starting to finally believe in too.