SINCE February 2012, Borrisokane Community Forum has been working on creating jobs, cutting the cost of living, raising revenue, increasing activity and promoting Borrisokane. Borrisokane Community College’s canteen became the focus point for the recent local Job Fair, a joint initiative between Borrisokane Community Forum and Borrisokane LocalSwitch Association.
Local members of the public were invited to attend an informal evening that would allow discussions to happen which would result in the creation of
potentially 50 much needed jobs in Borrisokane and the local area. North Tipperary LEADER Partnership, North Tipperary Enterprise Board, Shannon Development, local FAS personnel and Gurteen College were all on hand to provide further information and assistance. Nine potential new business enterprises were identified, and one person (Community Enterprise Developer) allocated to each initiative to investigate further and promote this idea. Presentations were made at the start of the meeting of these ideas and people were then invited to sit at the table of the idea that most appealed to them. An extra 10th table was made available to those who, although were interested in the 9 initiatives, had their own idea that they felt needed to be explored further. In excess of 100 people attended on the night, with apologies and expressions of interest from several parties who were unable to be there. Interested parties grouped together and there was a fantastic buzz in the room, with genuine motivation to get businesses up and running. People with various levels of expertise shared knowledge, resources and contacts on the night and future meetings will be held regarding the 9 initiatives which were, namely: 1. Fuel Co-op; 2. Community Supported Vegetable farm; 3. Local Food sales Co-op; 4. Community Composting Site; 5. Recycling; 6. Tool and Car Share Co-op; 7. Renewable Energy Business Retrofits; 8. Energy-Saving Housing retrofits; 9. Hostel. At the ideas table, other potential projects were discussed. These included: the ‘Greening’ of existing educational and healthcare units in the town; the restoration of a workhouse that could be used as a community and youth building; potential tourism from sporting events; providing accommodation and itineraries for groups from America and abroad; community home-baking potential; office hub.
Each individual project will be researched further as to its viability and recommendations will be made. On the basis of these recommendations, within one month, two projects will be established. Derry O Donnell was announced as the local catalyst for the area and will facilitate the growth of the enterprises at the early stages of development. This will involve arrangement of training, finance, contracts, grant aid and other activities to facilitate a quick launch for these new enterprises. This initiative has been recognised by Duncan Stewart (RTE Television presenter - ‘Eco Eye’ and ‘About the House’). He is proposing to film these two projects shortly for his upcoming ‘Eco Eye’ programme, to be aired in January/February. This unique self-help approach to job creation can be replicated in any town or village in Ireland and Duncan Stewart will be helping us to promote this.
The people of Borrisokane are no longer prepared to take a back seat and wait for things to happen in their town. With CSO figures showing the unemployment figures in the town (for males) increasing from 9% in 2006 to 29% in 2011 and over 25% vacant houses, something had to be done. A report due out in October, Borrisokane Needs/Resources will highlight these figures and the needs in the local area. Donna McLoughlin, Borrisokane Support Officer, stated that “This project can have a major impact in spurring Borrisokane’s fighting approach to combating the recession. We aim to achieve tangible successes that can be adopted and replicated in other communities in North Tipperary.” Gathering like minded people together on the night was a great starting point to go about addressing local problems with local solutions. For those who were not able to make the Jobs Fair on the night, results of the recommendations will be made available very shortly online - www.localswitch.ie/Borrisokane. Using a unique self-help approach to improve and promote Borrisokane and neighbouring areas, we can start to realise the true potential of its resources.
“What can our community achieve if we all work together?”