Limerick eyes attracting further foreign investment

By Pádraig Hoare

Measures to counter the “hollowing out” of Limerick city centre — where the city centre becomes emptier as retail and public amenities move outward in a doughnut effect — is key to the region reaching its economic potential.

That was one of the major findings of a report from EY-DKM Economic Advisory into Limerick’s positioning of itself as a location for more foreign direct investment following Brexit.

The report, commissioned by Limerick City and County Council, said 12,000 jobs were created between 2013 and 2017, while €2bn worth of projects were submitted for planning permission since 2009.

Dr Pat Daly of Limerick City & County Council, Mayor of the city and county of Limerick, Cllr James Collins, Ciara Morley, EY-DKM senior consultant, Neil Gibson, chief economist, EY Ireland, and Michel Lemagnen, Director MCJ Lemagnen Associates Ltd.

It was commissioned to review the five-year performance after the launch of the region’s economic plan ‘Limerick 2030’.

The report said hollowing out of the city centre and tackling social issues, particularly unemployment blackspots, had to be a priority for lawmakers if Limerick was to capitalise on investment following Britain’s exit from the EU.

There were 5,000 private sector jobs created in the city and suburbs alone in the past five years, it said.

The hollowing out would mean the city centre was enclosed by a ring with shopping centres, retail parks and other business.

Senior consultant with EY-DKM Economic Advisory, Ciara Morley said the labour market has shown strong signs of improvement, while the revitalisation of the city centre is well underway with the development of key projects under Limerick 2030.

“The key opportunity now for Limerick is to position as an attractive destination for FDI in light of Brexit,” Ms Morley said. 

Relative to the other Irish cities, Limerick is already in a strong position with its competitive cost of living and doing business, but there is no doubt that the supply of high-quality office space coming on-stream and the council’s ability to address infrastructural issues such as transport and broadband connectivity will only act to enhance Limerick’s offering to international markets further.

Chief executive of Limerick City and County Council, Conn Murray said the region has made “quantum leaps” in recent years, outperforming its targets.

“We were coming from an extremely low base and a huge amount has gone into getting us to where we are. But we’re not going to be patting ourselves on the back as there’s a long way to go,” he said.

The report involved benchmarking Limerick against comparable international cities, including Dundee and Norwich, Alborg in Denmark, Montpellier in France, and Groningen in Holland.

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