The E1.2 million Thurles Chamber Enterprise Centre on the LIT campus has reported outstanding results for it’s opening months with occupancy already approaching 40%. There are up to 20 people employed in the centre and a further 12 involved in the TESS (Tipperary Enterprise Start-Up Support) enterprise start-up programme which is running at the same location.
With provision for up to 100 people to commence business start-ups in an ultra-modern, and extremely supportivebusiness environment , the Enterprise Centre is a real hub of innovation for North Tipperary. And, apart from having key business requirements available,, one of the major advantages for those working in the centre, are the networking provided through operating side-by-side with ‘like-minded individuals’.
The Tipperary Star visited the centre this week and spoke to people from across the spectrum to get an insight into what goes on there on a day-to-day basis. And the most common thought articulated by all, was the sense of positivity generated by working in a go-get-them environment with ‘like- minded individuals’. If we heard it once, we heard it ten times during the course of the visit. The basic approach is that ideas are bounced off people at the coffee break and in casual conversation, and from those shared ideas, businesses and companies are born and helped to develop.
The state-of-the-art facility located on the LIT Tipperary Campus has up to 20 hotdesks and fourteen individual units ranging in size from 25 to 80 sq. metres. And, with excellent voice and data communication facilities , the centre is now a much sought after location for business start-ups in the light manufacturing, technology, service and white collar sectors. It is the perfect location from where to launch your new business idea and provides all the supports necessary to help you get moving. NeverMind Games had its people in Portlaoise, Limerick and Dublin, but they have chosen Thurles in which to base their very successful business due to the facilities and the proximity to LIT Tipperary where a games development degree course is very popular.
The Enterprise Centre was the brainchild of the Thurles Chamber of Commerce, spearheaded by Cllr Seamus Hanafin, John O Shaughnessy and Anne Fitzpatrick. It was built and is run in partnership with LIT Tipperary and secured funding from Enterprise Ireland, Tipperary North County Enterprise Board, North Tipperary County Council, Thurles Town Council, LIT and the Chamber of Commerce. The building is completely debt free having come in on budget and on time following a nine month construction period with the fabulous facility having been built by local firm Clancy Construction, with forty people employed on site during the construction.
“The purpose of this facility is to provide a top quality location with all the necessary infrastructure in place for new sustainable business start-ups and expanding businesses. This is the local business community looking for ways to bring employment opportunities to Thurles and the fact that it is linked with LIT Tipperary is a huge addition given the kind of expertise and support base available. LIT have been absolutely fantastic and the aim now is to bring the TESS programme forward so that it can have the same kind of impact as the LEAP Project in Limerick which hasled to the creation of 70 companies and almost 200 people being in employment. “That’s the kind of impact this can make, and that’s where we want to take it,” Cllr Seamus Hanafin told The Tipperary Star this week.
The building itself is built in accordance with best practice in terms of being environmentally friendly, and as well as having the fourteen units and the 20 hotdesks, it also contains communal boardrooms, a cafeteria, reception area, meeting rooms etc. Indeed, from what we witnessed on our visit, the cafeteria is one of the most important rooms in the building because it is here that networks are formed, ideas are explored and experiences are shared. The meeting rooms are available for meetings, seminars or other events.
The first tenant in the building was the Thurles Chamber of Commerce but they have been followed by NeverMind Games, Setanta College and Midas to bring an employment total of 20 in just over four months.
The idea of this facility evolved over time. The seed of the concept was first sown over five years ago and the idea originally was to locate on a site at the Mill Road. However, the seven member Board is now thrilled that the LIT Tipperary site materialised and there is great hope that the synergies gained by their links can be mutually beneficial. Indeed, the original plan is now a pale shadow of the fabulous Centre thanks to the input of LIT.
John Kennedy of the Limerick Institute of Technology said, “We are working in partnership with the bodies involved and it has been a very positive experience from our viewpoint. This is an exciting project and we can see that it is rubbing off on others and having a very positive affect. There is certainly plenty of scope, enthusiasm and ideas out there and a desire amongst people to establish business.Thankfully the facilities are right here in Thurles to do just that,” he said. North Tipperary has one of the highest rates of self employed in the country and the Thurles Chamber Enterprise Centre is hoping that this statistic can be further enhanced by encouraging others to take the step into business.
“There are many people out there who want to step up and go into business themselves for a whole variety of reasons. The TESS programme is a huge help in this regard because it is a free, year-long programme which helps people to establish goals and plans, and then follows up with a mentoring programme afterwards. It is run by The Discovery Partnership t and I have to say it is really top class. This programme is run in the Centre here and then when you consider that the facilities are available to actually help get into business, you can see how both initiatives are complimenting each other. It really is something special here and as we have seen in Limerick, this model works,” said Cllr Hanafin who added that entrepreneurs can come into an ultra-modern building with the best of broadband available andwork from comfortable turn-key ready facilities in a business like atmosphere.
“We really would encourage people to come along and see this facility if you are considering establishing a business,” said Cllr Hanafin.
Anyone interested in viewing the facilities, which run adjacent to the new Thurles link road, should make contact with the Chamber of Commerce at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0504 23407; or contact John Kennedy at email@example.com or 0504 28042