Business in Cashel has never faced such turbulent economic times as now, a fact that was acknowledged by the out-going Chamber President Sean Moloughney in his end of term address at the Chamber AGM held in Kearney's Castle on Wednesday, January 12.
Reflecting on his presidency he said he was delighted that the Chamber is financially secure, that it has been able to help numerous commercial and community organisations and that it has acted as a serious advocate for business. This has been achieved both locally and in a county context by lobbying the political establishment on issues such as water and business rates and parking charges. The inauguration of the Cashel Enterprise of the Year Award is proof that there is a genuine sense of entrepreneurship in the town and that with the right nurturing this can grow to the benefit of all.
New President, Mike Ryan, was voted in unanimously by the attending membership to bring the Chamber through 2011, which may prove to be the most difficult year on record for businesses. Mike served as Vice-President during 2010 and initiated several key innovations during this period. A native of Knockavilla Mike joined his wife, Brigid Browne, in their company Fortress Planning in 2008 after spending 13 years as Project Manager with the BCD Engineering Group in Cork. Mike has worked on major projects for the likes of Pepsi, Kerry Group, Pfizers and Bulmers and will bring his management and leadership experience to the role of President.
Finula Crowe was returned as Secretary for a second term. Finula is a native of Dundrum and grew up in the hotel business working in her family hotel, Dundrum House Hotel. Finula has spent very successful business spells abroad, three years in Paris working for Irish firm, Nations and over 15 years working in Senior Sales and Marketing positions in the Information Technology industry in Australia including six years as Marketing Manager at Microsoft. Finula returned home in 2009 to take up the role of Sales and Marketing Manager back in her family business at Dundrum House Hotel, Golf & Leisure Resort.
John Lacy was voted in as the new Chamber Treasurer and is a very welcome addition to the team. John is one of the new businesses to set up in Cashel in recent times locating his accountancy practice, John M. Lacy Accountants, in the Main Street. John Lacy is a qualified ACCA with an extensive knowledge of many businesses including SME's and this experience will help enhance the Chamber for the coming difficult year.
Sean Laffey, one of longest serving officers in the Chamber, stepped down from the treasurers' role to become P.R.O. Sean runs Castlelake Consultancy which services the print media industry. His clients include the in flight magazines of Aer Lingus and KLM, Hot Press, UnCut, Irish House Buyers Guide, Irish Building Times and Irish Car Buyer. He has been consultant editor to Irish Music Magazine since 1998. Sean is visiting science teacher at Cashel's Scoil Aonghusa and is a registered environmental educational provider with South Tipperary County Council. Sean is heavily involved with the Cashel St. Patrick's Parade and the Cashel Heritage Trust.
Incoming President Mike Ryan gave a strong and forthright assessment of his plans for his tenure, he emphasised that much of the good work of the last two years would continue. Development of the excellent town web site is a priority which promotes Cashel both nationally and internationally and has been a huge success with over 4.6 million hits in 2010. The Town Map was a simple innovation in 2010 which has helped bring more visitors into the town from the Rock of Cashel and a new map is being planned for the 2011 season.
The President said that he would continue to seek investment in Cashel from a range of businesses and industries and has already spoken to the IDA about ways of attracting foreign direct investment to the town and area. "Cashel is ideally located geographically in the South and now with the excellent road links to Cork, Dublin, Waterford and Limerick. It is time to promote Cashel to major international manufacturing companies."
"Tourism and retail are still vital elements in the commercial life of the town, and they lend a special ambience to the central business district. I want to see dynamic sub committees from the retail and tourism sectors. They know the problems, they understand the issues, the Chamber has the resources to help them, we have the expertise to promote market and lobby alongside them, but we need to be running with their innovative ideas if we are to push such projects forward."
"One area we have identified as important is the domestic tourism market, we know from the data we collect via the website that the majority of the traffic comes from people in Ireland, we need to change their curiosity into visits and we need the tourism, leisure and retail sectors to offer a great experience to our visitors once they get here. To often tourists come to see the fantastic Rock of Cashel but do not come into the town centre itself which needs to be rectified as they are missing out on some of the hidden gems that Cashel has to offer."
During 2011 the Chamber intends to encourage local businesses to not only join the chamber but to attend meetings and events to network with other businesses to create potential opportunities for work. Majority of small local businesses rely on word-of-mouth and this can only be achieved by creating awareness of the types of businesses and services available in the area. To this end the Chamber will be holding a free business advice clinic in Halla Na Feile on Friday, January 21.