The EI Regional Enterprise Fund can be key to help the south east make up g round.
That was the message from Frank O’Regan, Chairman of the South East Action Plan for Jobs (SEAPJ) speaking after the launch of the €60Mn Enterprise Ireland (EI) Regional Enterprise Development Fund by Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation in Birr Castle last Monday. Mr O’Regan, former Vice President of Global Operations with multi-national Baush & Lomb said:
“We welcome the launch of the EI Regional Enterprise Development Fund. All of the stakeholders involved in the SEAPJ have been working very hard to develop strong regional projects that will help boost the economic recovery of the region. It is vital that these efforts are now supported with significant financial investment through the Fund”.
Projects will be considered under the EI Regional Enterprise Development Fund through an open competitive call. The Fund is aimed at supporting ‘step change’ projects that can significantly enhance enterprise and job creation across the regions. The Fund was launched against the backdrop of the latest Quarterly National Household Survey (NQHS) results for Quarter 1 2017, announced by the CSO last week, which reveal that while the national unemployment rate has fallen to 6.7 per cent, the South East still has the country’s highest rate of unemployment at 9.3 per cent. There is no other region in the country with an unemployment rate above 8 per cent.
Mr O’Regan said: “Most other regions are experiencing more of the benefits of the economic recovery, while the South East is lagging behind in terms of job creation. In preparation of the launch of the Regional Enterprise Development Fund, we have been busy preparing detailed business plans for co-operative projects that build on the strengths of the region to boost local job creation. We now need a significant share of the €60Mn to support these projects that in turn will help close the gap that exists between the South East and the rest of the country”.
The latest CSO Quarterly National Household Survey results for Quarter 1 2017 show that while there are now over 13,000 more people at work and the unemployment rate for the South East has fallen by 3.5 per cent since the launch of the SEAPJ in 2015, the rate is still too high and running at over 2.5 per cent above the national average. The main objective of the SEAPJ is to create a total of 25,000 new jobs in the region by 2020 and to reduce the unemployment rate to within 1 per cent of the national average. Details of the EI Regional Enterprise Development Fund can be found at www.enterprise-ireland.com/REDF