Thurles bid for start-up funds unsuccessful but the fight will continue

Noel Dundon

Reporter:

Noel Dundon

Email:

nd@tipperarystar.ie

Cllr Seamus Hanafin

Cllr Seamus Hanafin.

Thurles Chamber Enterprise Centre is overlooked for funding but still hopeful of being included in second tranche.

Enterprise Ireland this week announced the award of grants for enterprise development projects under the Regional Enterprise Development Fund.
A major €5 million award was made to the Lisheen Bio-economy project but Thurles Community Enterprise Projects CLG (TCEP) was disappointed as no award was made to its project, The Tipperary Star can reveal.
TCEP is a new company established by Thurles Chamber of Commerce, Thurles Community Enterprise Centre and Limerick Institute of Technology with the active support of the County Council, with the aim of providing the buildings and infrastructure in Thurles required to attract a modern company of significant scale to the town.
A group including Cllr Seamus Hanafin, John Butler, John O’Shaughnessy, John Kennedy, Ciaran Lynch and Dr. Liam Brown have been meeting for over two and a half years to determine how to reverse this trend. The establishment of the TCEP and the application to the REDF was the culmination of these deliberations.
TCEP Chairman, Cllr Seamus Hanafin (pictured right), warmly welcomed the award to the Lisheen project. He stated that this award would enable the potential of the old Lisheen Mine site to be unlocked and that he looked forward to substantial enterprise development on that site arising out of this award.
Cllr. Hanafin promised that TCEP would work closely with the promoters of the Lisheen project to maximise the benefit which it can bring to Thurles.
While welcoming the grant to the Lisheen project, Cllr Hanafin expressed his natural disappointment that the TCEP project had not been successful. The application by TCEP sought support for the development of an Advanced Technology building in Thurles.
Cllr Hanafin also stated, however, that TCEP has not given up the fight by any means. “This”, he stated, “is only the first round. While we believe we have a very strong project, we have identified a number of ways in which the proposal can be improved. We intend to work on these improvements ahead of the second round of applications which will be open next February. One way or another TCEP is determined that this development will take place”.
Thurles has suffered a significant decline in manufacturing industry over the last 30 years and is seldom considered as a location for investment for medium to large enterprises looking to locate in Ireland or to expand their Irish operation.
Cllr Hanafin, stated that “It has become clear in recent years that, while it has many advantages, the attractiveness of Thurles was severely limited by the absence of a modern building which could be quickly occupied by an enterprise looking for a new location. This belief is borne out by the fact that the last four significant enterprises to locate in Tipperary have been accommodated in existing buildings and by the fact that Thurles rarely if ever figures on Enterprise Ireland or IDA itineraries.”
John Butler, President of Thurles Chamber of Commerce and a Board Member of TCEP stated that “This new venture is an expansion and development of the work of the Thurles Chamber Enterprise Centre. The Enterprise Centre has been very successful with very high occupancy levels and has delivered over 60 jobs to Thurles.”
While the TCEC has been very successful in delivering micro-enterprise, Thurles has suffered a significant decline in major manufacturing industry over the last 30 years and is seldom considered as a location for investment for medium to large enterprises looking to locate in Ireland or to expand their Irish operations.
The grant sought from Enterprise Ireland of €2 million towards the project would make its development possible and allow the Thurles community to offer an attractive, keenly priced location to potential investors in the town. The project is being supported by the County Council and, without this support also, the project would not be feasible.
A key part of the project proposal submitted by the TCEP was that the community of Thurles would actively promote this new venture at home and abroad and that it would help to gather together the community of Thurles to welcome and support any enterprise that wishes to locate in the town and this remains a core objective.
The failure to obtain a grant this time round is, of course, a disappointment; but it is only a setback and one which the TCEP has every intention of overcoming.