Joe Gill: Visit to Cork City confirms why it is vying to be among the best places in world to invest

Joe Gill: Visit to Cork City confirms why it is vying to be among the best places in world to invest

Last week, as a treat, my wife rented a house for us to stay in at the heart of Cork City, writes Joe Gill.

Over two days we traipsed around the streets and visited a variety of museums, restaurants, parks and galleries. 

The experience helped explain why the city has garnered accolades as a tourist destination full of eclectic locations.

It is striking how changed the city has become in just 10 years, as a wave of public and private investing helps transform the city and its prospects.

As we enter 2020, it is also evident that the foundation stones for the next chapter in the city’s economy are being laid in numerous locations.

Physically, it is in the port area where most progress is visible - as a set of commercial, residential and hotel properties rise up. 

All of these are likely to complete during this year and next. All of them will add employees, residents and tourists to the eastern quarter of the city centre.

Alone, that will stimulate demand for retail, food and general services. 

Moreover, if plans being hatched by various developers surface, both areas alongside the Lee will extend down river and further boost the city’s economy for years to come.

Energy and momentum are evident all over the city and not just in big projects. 

The Barrack Street area, for example, has become a hive of activity with innovative restaurants, cafes and bars thriving. 

The recent advancement of funding for the Beamish and Crawford site will, hopefully, accelerate that part of the city even further.

There are two keys to understanding why such an upswing is in effect across Cork and, indeed, throughout the economy. 

Record low interest rates and an accompanying rise in the flow of credit is a critical enabler.

However, all the credit in the world is worthless until it is accompanied by a second ingredient - confidence. 

That confidence is not just found in the boardrooms of the largest developers but it is evident, too, among individuals who take on the challenge of opening a coffee shop or a new store.

As 2020 unfolds, it is highly likely that monetary policy will remain loose, meaning credit will continue to be available at relatively low interest rates.

The continuation of confidence which helps stimulate further investment will depend on a number of factors. 

Economic momentum will be a central feature and forecasters envisage further growth in GDP which should add more jobs.

The outcome of the general election, too, will have a bearing. 

Joe Gill: Visit to Cork City confirms why it is vying to be among the best places in world to invest

Having a strong Government that can retain a pro-business culture - while working on the obvious shortcomings in health, housing and climate change - would be a good outcome. 

The navigation of Brexit and the evolution of US-China trade talks, too, will have a bearing on how confidence flows through our society.

It is 100 years since Cork City burned down in the month of December. 

In early 1921 it would have been hard to convince anyone that the Republic’s second city could literally rise from the ashes.

That city has battled decades of swings and roundabouts that contained deep setbacks including the closures of Ford and Dunlop in the 1970s, recessions and the global financial crisis in 2008.

It is now in the midst of an unprecedented investment cycle that can position it as one of the more desirable locations to invest in and live anywhere in Europe. 

Such a result would be a fitting tribute to those who gave up so much a century ago.

Joe Gill is director of origination and corporate broking with Goodbody Stockbrokers. His views are personal.

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