Merger differences won’t derail Cork investment

Conor Healy Cork Chamber  pictured as The National Recruitment Federation (NRF) in partnership with Cork Chamber held their annual Seminar recently in the Clarion Hotel Cork City.

Cork delegates hoping to attract significant investment to the city at a major conference tomorrow are presenting a unified front despite harbouring fundamental disagreements on the best way to ensure the city’s economic prosperity.

The event which will see business leaders try to entice multinational companies to set up base in the city takes place as the divide between those on both sides of the proposed merger of city and county councils deepens.

Business and political bodies, including Cork Chamber of Commerce and Cork City Council, insist they will be on the same page when selling the region despite their high-profile disagreement.

“There has been ongoing debate over the last number of months around the local government issue… and there are differences of opinion on that but despite that, collectively, we all have a similar focus on driving forward Cork’s economy and in that regard this event in London on Thursday is hugely important,” Cork Chamber chief executive Conor Healy said.

Ann Doherty, Chief Executive, Cork City Council
Ann Doherty, Chief Executive, Cork City Council

Mr Healy’s organisation is in favour of the recommendations of the Smiddy Report which has called for the merger of Cork city and county councils.

The chamber is advocating the implementation of the recommendations on the basis that it would help create a single co-ordinated vision for economic development; enhance the region’s ability to lobby on national issues; and provide an effective counter-balance to the Dublin region.

The city council, however, is against the proposal and has instead called for a boundary extension which would increase the size of the Cork metropolitan area.

Cork City Council director of strategic planning and economic development Pat Ledwidge denied the organisations’ opposing positions would make it more difficult to present a coherent message to companies at the fDi Forum event.

Cork City Council director of strategic planning and economic development Pat Ledwidge
Cork City Council director of strategic planning and economic development Pat Ledwidge

Mr Ledwidge accepted, however, that the council would be trying sell firms in a city he and his colleagues believe will be weakened should the report’s recommendations be implemented.

“What we’re selling is the city. I think what the boundary debate is about is about is the future governance of the city and the county so I don’t see any conflict there per se, to be honest,” Mr Ledwidge added.

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