By David Raleigh
More than 230 jobs are to be created through the construction and operation of a €14m engineering training centre of excellence at Limerick Institute of Technology.
Planning permission was granted by Limerick city and county council for the college's sixth campus at Coonagh, Co Limerick, which will have particular emphasis on precision engineering training.
The college, which currently has five campuses across Limerick, Tipperary, and Clare, hopes to welcome the first cohort of students in Coonagh during the 2017/2018 academic year.
The first phase of development is planned in stages over three years.
Construction is expected to create 134 new jobs, with the campus employing a further 100 when fully operational.
It is the latest in a string of developments announced for the Treaty City where over 9,000 jobs have been created in the past two and a half years, according to city council chief executive, Conn Murray.
LIT President, Professor Vincent Cunnane said: “We are very pleased with today’s decision. It is a critical juncture not just in our development of the Coonagh campus, but in our overall Campus 2030 Capital Development Plan, which is fully integrated with the Limerick 2030 Spatial and Economic Development Plan."
“We are one step closer to seeing an unused site transformed into a centre of engineering learning which will have major dividends for Limerick and the region."
Mr Cunnane added the development would also "increase the attractiveness of Limerick for continued investment and jobs growth while also directly addressing critical skills needs in industry".
The announcement was welcomed by Denis Doyle, Vice President & General Manager, US and Ireland Manufacturing Operations at engineering giant, Analog Devices, who added: "As manufacturing moves towards the Internet of Things, it is crucial that we have access to graduates who are trained in state-of-the-art facilities and who understand the future of manufacturing.
"We hire graduates locally insofar as we can, and the development of LIT’s Coonagh campus is very important in that regard."
Matthew Thomas, CEO, Shannon Group said the development would "help foster innovation in the mid west region".
The campus expansion is to be funded by the Department of Education and Skills and the HEA on a phased basis.