Chamber president Fintan McGill said: “The IDA has hardly stood here in Longford in the last five years, so I’m delighted to hear that a regional manager is to appointed — he’ll have plenty of work to do.”
Longford has been hard hit by the recession and talk of the emergence of green shoots of recovery in the economy carries little weight with the business community in the town.
Homebase will be the latest to shut up shop in the town when it closes on July 11 with the loss of 35-40 jobs.
“A new jobs plan for the Midlands is certainly to be welcomed, but don’t think for a minute that it’s going to solve the problems of the business community in Longford,” Mr McGill said.
“On the ground here, the biggest problem is rates —businesses are being lambasted with rates and there will be little light for any of us until the antiquated system of rates is tackled.”
It is next to impossible for businesses to develop with “crippling” rates overheads, he said, adding that a 0.5% reduction in the annual levy last year made little difference to the business sector.
“But we have to welcome the proposed appointment of a regional manager to the Midlands,” said Mr McGill. “It will be great to see something being done there. We’ve been ignored for too long in the Midlands for jobs announcements.”
Tullamore Chamber president Joe Fennell stressed the most important part of the strategy title is “action”. “The 10%-15% growth in employment is very welcome and we would hope that some of the hubs mentioned in the report would be based in Tullamore,” he said.