Michael Walsh was addressing delegates at Regeneration: Opportunities for Growth, a national conference hosted at the city’s Theatre Royal.
The conference focused on “what makes vibrant cities work and the role that cities can play in delivering sustainable growth”.
Mr Walsh said: “The onus and responsibility falls on ourselves; we have to look at ourselves and see how others view us and respond accordingly…
“Success follows positive people like water flowing down a hill and the challenge is to bring that positivity and do it for ourselves. Our people are our best asset – there’s a distinct asset in our creativity. The question is, ‘Can we build on it? Can we grow it?’ We hide it under a bushel sometimes.
“We want people to come here to do business; we want to express ourselves in a new way and we want to work as one Waterford under one roof.”
President of Waterford Chamber, Tom Murran, told delegates: “There is great energy in Waterford at present and a determination to drive the city forward in a way that benefits all current and future citizens.”
Cllr Mary Roche, Mayor of Waterford, added: “Today’s topic is very relevant and timely for Waterford as we reshape our city so that it can be a true regional gateway…
“There is a particular focus on how we can best use our invaluable heritage assets to our competitive advantage and make them accessible to all.
“This very much fits with the focus all around us here on The Mall where the House of Waterford Crystal and the Viking Triangle will give Waterford an urban heart to compare with the very best.”
In his address, Enterprise Minister Batt O’Keeffe said that Government and the enterprise sector must work together to deliver economic recovery. “Sustainable job creation will have to be driven by the enterprise sector – in Waterford and across the country.
“That effort will be helped by the Government’s focus on a ‘whole of enterprise’ strategy – the best route to sustainable economic growth and regional development over the coming years.”
As well as calling for more proactive business mentoring and a partial Government guarantee scheme for loans to small business, Fine Gael transport spokesperson Simon Coveney focused on interventions that he said could quickly stimulate the economy. “We have seen a collapse in tourism numbers which are down almost 30% on the peak years at a time when we never had more to offer visitors with more competitive pricing and better service.
“We need radical change in aviation policy and it’s arguable that we have no aviation policy at present.
“Another area where radical action can deliver results is how we deliver vital investment in our water, energy and telecoms infrastructure. Rather than borrowing, we need to finance this through semi-states and the disposal of assets that aren’t of strategic national interest… our current water infrastructure is an expensive embarrassment with as much water leaked as consumed; this cannot be continued.”