City centre loses 3,500 jobs over five-year period

Cork city centre has lost more than 3,500 jobs in the last five years to out-of-city locations, a report has found.

While overall employment in Cork City has dropped 2%, the core city centre experienced a massive 13% drop — from 27,696 employees in 2006 to 24,092 last year.

And the city centre is struggling in a range of areas, where employment in the professional services sector dropped 2%, from 27% to 25%; by 2% in the accommodation and food services sectors; and by 1% in retail.

The loss from the core of major businesses including Siemens, Beamish & Crawford, McKechnie, which relocated to Little Island, the Revenue Commissioners, which relocated to Blackpool, and MCM Security, which also relocated to Blackpool, contributed to the decline, as did jobs cuts at Cork City Council and the Mercy University Hospital.

Retail employment across the city dropped from 16% in 2006 to 14% last year.

However, the manufacturing sector’s share of employment increased from 9% to 13%, largely due to the creation of jobs in technology and IT companies like Apple and Blizzard.

The figures are contained in the Cork City Employment and Land Use Survey 2011, prepared by the city council’s Strategic Planning and Economic Development Directorate.

It shows that in 2006, 38% of Cork City employment was contained within the city centre area. That figure has dropped to 34% — the equivalent of 3,500 jobs.

The flight of jobs was fuelled by the construction of office complexes in places like Mahon and Blackrock, the report said. They offer businesses medium to large floor plates, which allow flexibility in expansion and operational costs, the provision of onsite parking and perceived easier access, as well as lower rates and rents.

“There has been significant development in the city centre in recent years in terms of retail development between the construction of Opera Lane and Half Moon St which would have added to the retail activity of the city centre,” the report states.

“However, this was not sufficient to replace losses in other retail businesses.”

Employment in the north-east of the city increased by 2% as businesses relocated to retail and office parks in Blackpool.

But while retail employment has dropped, it has been offset by growth in other areas, mostly in IT.

The north-west of the city’s share of employment rose by 2%, due mainly to job creation at Apple, the report found.

The report also found:

* The south centre area saw a 19% fall in employment due in part to job cuts at Musgrave Retail Partners and Help Industries, and the closure of several smaller businesses around the Vicars Rd and Tramore Rd areas;

* There was a 24% growth in employment in the north-west sector, from 1,137 to 4,749 jobs, due mainly to growth at Apple’s European headquarters;

* There was a 7% growth in the north-east sector, due to the relocation of Revenue and MCM Security from the city centre, and the relocation of Marriott Global Reservations from Britain, as well as growth at gaming giant Blizzard;

* Growth in the south-west was due to expansion at Boston Scientific and Abtran, and the transfer of services from the former Erinville maternity hospital to CUH;

* The increase in the south-east sector was smaller than expected. The closure of Motorola, with the loss of 400 jobs, and job cuts at St Finbarr’s Hospital, affected growth rates.

Key issues

* Almost 900 business owners in Cork city responded to the survey.

* 63% said accessibility was a major issue. Suggestions include free or reduced car parking, more park and ride facilities, and improved public transport and cycling facilities.

* 14% said commercial rates should be reduced.

* 7% expressed concerns about graffiti, begging, and street drinking.

* 5% said dereliction and vacancy problems need to be addressed.

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