Three things are happening this week which underscore the ongoing positive momentum enveloping the Cork economy.
All three touch on key policy issues for any Irish Government.
This is the first week after the official opening of the Lusitania Old Head Signal Tower. Alongside being a focal point for anyone interested in that naval history this site is also the official start and finish point for the Wild Atlantic Way.
The WAW continues to grow from strength to strength as the natural beauty of the entire west coast is promoted globally, including via a much improved App.
Leveraging the WAW to drive tourism has to be a major objective of any policymaker in Ireland and also needs to be incorporated in the ongoing debate about Cork Airport.
The second bit of important news relates to the IT giant Apple, which is contemplating a significant step-up in its Cork operations. It would be hard to underestimate the value of such a global corporate leader deciding to ramp up its already significant presence in the city.
Aside from the cutting-edge technology that Apple represents, the fact that it is growing in Ireland while mired in a high profile tax inquiry by the EU says a lot about Ireland’s ability to sustain its position as a preferred destination for mobile US FDI capital.
Having companies like Apple and EMC bolster their investments in the Cork area helps re-inforce the value of all Ireland as a location for progressive companies.
The third element that should cheer us up is the decision by the stock exchange-listed Green REIT to enter exclusive talks to acquire One Albert Quay, the fast mushrooming corporate office rising next to Cork City Hall.
That investment, if consummated, will validate the innovation shown by John Clery in combining world class construction standards with long-term occupancy contracts by global corporations.
Green’s interest reflects the potential for commercial property in Cork to track the momentum evident in Dublin over the past two years in particular.
These developments, once again, show that a small nation has the capacity to recover from economic adversity by embracing the ebb and flow of liberalised open markets.
It is because Ireland chose to be part of an international and progressive world economy that it can garner the attention of leading international companies. It is because Ireland decides to plug its third level institutions into a corporate network that high calibre jobs can be secured quickly for growing companies.
There is also another dynamic at play. Cork, and most of Ireland outside the Dublin conurbation, remains highly competitive from a cost perspective for expanding businesses.
At a number of levels this relative advantage can be discerned. An average family home in Cork is materially cheaper than it is in Dublin for a start.
When you consider a home is the largest capital spend any individual is likely to make during his or her career then having that asset available at an attractive price is a magnet for long-term jobs.
It also dampens the burden of wage expectations for employers if accommodation costs are reasonable.
Another intangible facet of life outside of Dublin that is hard to value is the easy and low-cost access to leisure amenities. It costs nothing to immerse yourself in the natural beauty that defines rural and coastal Ireland.
The Pacific Coast Highway is a fine example of what America can offer its citizens and tourists but I’d back the Wild Atlantic Way as a formidable alternative, an asset that compliments the efforts by so many in Ireland to make this island the go-to investment hotspot for mobile large scale investing.
Joe Gill is Director of Corporate Broking with Goodbody Stockbrokers. His views are personal.
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