Era of investment to drive bright future for small business in Cork

Era of investment to drive bright future for small business in Cork
JJ O’ Connell, Family Business Ireland; Simon Coveney, Tánaiste; and Áine Collins, EFM Ireland, in the redeveloped Plato Family Business Network, Northside For Business Campus, Ballyvolane, Cork. Picture: Diane Cusack

SMALL retail businesses and service providers in Cork can look forward to a markedly more prosperous future as the city progresses through a generation of significant investments.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney told a group of 40 Cork business people to expect Cork to have 15 to 40 new 50-storey buildings, a new light rail system on wheels, completed M22 and M28 motorways, an enhanced Dunkettle Interchange and significant housing development in the coming years.

The minister was addressing a business event entitled ‘Supporting Irish Business in an Ever-Changing Landscape’, hosted by Áine Collins, business development director at business finance consultants EFM Ireland, and former Cork North West TD for Fine Gael. The forum took place at the newly redeveloped Plato Family Business Network, Northside For Business Campus, Ballyvolane, Cork.

“When I meet owners of small businesses, they tell me the benefits of the economic upturn are not trickling down to them,” said Mr Coveney. “The fact is that we are at the start of a very exciting period for Cork business.

“There is a great appetite for business in Cork, and we are seeing business funding coming here that we were not seeing in the past. If we keep with the policies outlined in the country’s 2040 plans, the opportunities will be immense.”

In the coming years, Cork city businesses will benefit from population growth of over 5,000 people per year, adding anything from 120,000 to 140,000 people by 2040. This would effectively double what were the city centre numbers from prior to the extension of the city boundaries.

While local retail will need to continue to innovate to counter online competition, city centre trade will evolve to focus on servicing a revival in city centre living. Bórd Pleanála approval for 302 apartments on Horgan’s Quay and Railway Street will be the first of many new housing developments.

“Admittedly, a lot of retail has moved online, but the city centre is already creating a café culture. Most of the people who will be living and working in the city centre won’t have cars and won’t want to drive out to shopping centres.”

The proposed light rail system, linking the city west to Ballincollig and east to Tivoli, would certainly help reduce traffic. The city’s café culture could also be boosted by another unlikely plan to weather-proof one popular city street.

“I was talking to one architect who is looking at what it would take to put a roof over Oliver Plunkett Street,” said Mr Coveney. “As more and more people come to live in the city centre, a different type of retail activity will develop.

“We will also see business and housing developments in the Docklands, accompanied by a more sustainable urban environment. When the new events centre is built [on the old Beamish brewery site], it will be full four or five times a week, leading to a lot of new social activities in an area that is already a student quarter. There will be new accommodation for 5,000 students at South Terrace.”

Meanwhile, the minister says he would like to see the city progress with plans for flood defences in the city centre. He has met with members of Save Cork City, a group opposed to the proposed defences.

“We really do need flood defences,” said Mr Coveney.

“It is not a question of making a choice between flood defences versus tidal barriers — which may also happen some time in the future. The more immediate concern is that the €250m allocated to works on the city’s flood defences could be lost to other projects around the country that are ready to go.”

Meanwhile, Áine Collins outlined how EFM Ireland is supporting Irish business through providing professional business strategy and advisory services. Among other services, EFM provides flexible, part-time finance directors to companies which need financial business strategy, advice and planning, but who may not require to hire full-time in house.

The event was also addressed by JJ O’Connell, national director and co-chair of Family Business Ireland and of the Plato Ireland Business Network, who has rebuilt the former derelict site of the Ballyvolane Enterprise Centre to facilitate a purpose- built centre for family business and family business planning in the north Cork region, supported by the Local Enterprise Offices and Cork City Council.

JJ O’Connell stated: “We have created a safe environment here at Plato, where business owners can receive expert inputs and interchange with peers.

“Many owner-managers suffer from isolation, and often may not know how to tackle certain issues they might be facing. At Plato, we provide practical training, business counselling and support, and offer a dedicated improvement plan for each business that comes through our doors.”

Business Movers

Here is a selection of interesting new appointments at Cork Airport, American Chamber of Commerce Ireland, BaxterStorey Ireland, Dawn Meats, Ardmac Group and Kenmare Resources.

Era of investment to drive bright future for small business in Cork

Roy O’Driscoll has been appointed as head of Finance, Property, IT and Projects with Cork Airport. He brings more than 10 years of experience in IT and Finance, notably as finance director for IT & Networks with eir Ireland. His new role involves business planning and all financial reporting within the Airport, implementing projects, and the management of property and leasing in the Airport campus. He will also lead IT to promote innovations, operational excellence and business efficiency. The appointment comes as Cork Airport recently announced its 2019/2020 winter schedule, with five new routes operating this winter season to Katowice, Alicante, Budapest, Malta and Poznan.

Era of investment to drive bright future for small business in Cork

Mary Good has been named as the new chief operating officer of the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland. AmCham IRL is the voice of over 700 US multinationals in Ireland and advocates for the transatlantic business relationship between the US and Ireland. Mary was previously VP for global manufacturing with PepsiCo in Cork, with responsibility for diversity and inclusion. Across her 25-year career in PepsiCo, Mary held multiple roles across quality, commercialisation and technical services. She was also previously involved in AmCham’s Women in Global Organisations Network, and helped AmCham with its research on female roles in STEM. She is a graduate of CIT and holds an MBA.

Era of investment to drive bright future for small business in Cork

Alan Russell has been appointed as managing director of catering firm BaxterStorey Ireland. He brings more than 25 years of senior level industry experience, most recently at Gather & Gather. He has also held senior roles at several catering companies, including with Compass Group UK and Ireland, and with Sodexo. His focus will be growing the business with a focus on talent attraction and retention. Completing the new leadership structure at the company, with a focus on chef development, is Gavin McDonagh, who brings vast industry experience and will focus on team coaching and training, helping individuals to develop their careers and professional expertise.

Era of investment to drive bright future for small business in Cork

Gill Higgins has been named as as group head of CSR and Sustainability with Dawn Meats. In prior roles, she was an Origin Green Ambassador with McDonalds, where she was a part of the global supply chain and sustainability team, and she also worked with M&S. Gill will coordinate Dawn Meats’ engagement on sustainability initiatives with stakeholders right across its supply chain whilst also driving internal progress towards the company’s stated goal of becoming Europe’s most sustainable meat company. She also represents Dawn Meats on Bord Bia’s Agri-Food Diversity and Inclusion Forum as well as on Business in the Community’s (Bitci) Low Carbon Pledge working group.

Era of investment to drive bright future for small business in Cork

Alan Coakley has been appointed as chief operations officer of construction firm Ardmac Group, which employs 300 people across Ireland, the UK and Europe, and provides specialist construction services to the commercial fit out, biotech and data centre sectors. Previously Ardmac’s MD, Alan’s new central position will see him lead business both domestically and internationally. A native of Dublin, he joined Ardmac in 2013 as group operations director. He brings more than 36 years of construction experience to the role, including working as a quantity surveyor and project manager in Ireland and the UK. He holds chartered memberships of the CIOB, SCSI and RICS.

Era of investment to drive bright future for small business in Cork

Elaine Dorward-King has been appointed as a non-executive director on the board of Kenmare Resources, which operates the Moma Titanium Minerals Mine in northern Mozambique. She also becomes a member of Kenmare’s sustainability committee. Dr Dorward-King has over 30 years’ experience in the mining, chemicals and engineering industries, including the mineral sands sector. Since March 2013 she has served as executive VP of sustainability and external relations for Newmont Goldcorp, the gold mining company. Prior to that, she worked from 1992 to 2013 for Rio Tinto. She holds a PhD in Analytical Chemistry from Colorado State University.

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