NEWLY re-elected Cork Chamber president Bill O’Connell said housing and public transport will be key to Cork achieving its full potential in the coming years.
The Chamber was delighted to see the emphasis placed on Cork and the southern region in the Government’s recent Ireland 2040 plan but Mr O’Connell said concrete development needs to follow the lofty projections.
“The Tánaiste has said that 50% of growth will be from people who haven’t been born in Ireland,” he said. “The reality is we can talk numbers all day long but if we don’t have the right environment for them to come to, and that includes housing, they simply won’t come.
“I can’t stress that enough. We can project numbers but we have to have the infrastructure. I’m not going to relocate to Cork if there isn’t suitable accommodation for me there.
“I know we saw the announcement in Glanmire last week, which is very positive, but we need a lot more than that to fix the housing situation we are in at the moment.”
He said the growing popularity of the city centre for business would only add to the infrastructure needs.
“We are seeing work patterns change and we are seeing a lot of companies demanding office space in the city, whereas before they would have gone to Carrigtwohill or Ballincollig,” he said.
“I think a lot of the employees want to be in the city. That will bring its own challenges, not just to have those office spaces available but people will want to live in the city as well.
“Cork Chamber members have clearly stated through surveys, personal engagement and in some cases publicly that public transport efficiency and enhancement is a top priority for their businesses and is a key element of future investment location decision making.”
Cork Chamber held it 199th AGM in the Imperial Hotel last night, and launched a refreshed brand identity, three-year strategic plan, and a brand-new website.
In addition to re-electing Bill O’Connell as President, Paula Cogan, Director of Sales & Marketing at the Doyle Collection, was voted Vice-President of the Chamber.
Four new members, DC Cahalane, Republic of Work; Thia Hennessy, Cork University Business School; John Mc Allen, Bank of Ireland; and Seamus Downey, EY, were elected to the board, while Ronan Murray from Deloitte assumed the role of Treasurer and Orla Flynn from CIT the position of Honorary Secretary.
The Chamber is also emphasizing diversity and inclusion as part of its new strategy: “This principle will guide our work as we look towards transforming Cork for the better and build an even more vibrant Cork community that will enable business to innovate, grow and flourish.” Mr O’Connell said he has a number of priorities as he faces into the second year of his presidency: “Getting the M20 over the line, plus other developments ike the M28. If you take the direct transatlantic flights, it has been a huge setback to lose the winter schedule. That was a huge disappointment and what we need to do now is ensure the summer schedule is supported, we need to work to make the route a success.
“It would be great to get the Event Centre over the line, you see the impact Pairc Ui Chaoimh has had, I think if we got something similar for the Event Centre it would be magnificent for the city as a whole.”