Chamber News

Waterford Chamber GE2020 Manifesto

In advance of General Election 2020, Waterford Chamber have outlined their priorities for Government on behalf of their members.

According to Gerald Hurley, Waterford Chamber CEO, “We are fully supportive of the Chambers Ireland Manifesto and its recommendations to Government therein. However, as a Regional Chamber, there are also a number of asks which must be considered and actioned if we are to develop our city in line with the ambitions identified in Project Ireland 2040.

“These are not new issues and as the voice of business for our members and the wider business community of Waterford, we are committed to keeping these items on the agenda until they are delivered. Whoever is going to represent us needs to ensure that these are priority issues for them at Government level. One of our recommendations is that Government appoint a new Minister for the Regions to safeguard our ambitions and those of the other regional cities. This has come about following discussions at the City Regions Ireland Forum where Chambers from the five cities have come together to lobby collectively to ensure the ambitions as laid out in Ireland Project 2040 are realised.”

Outlined below, in no particular order, are the key priorities for Waterford as the Capital of the South East Region on behalf of Waterford Chamber.

REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Appoint a Minister for the Regions to ensure that balanced regional development as outlined in Project Ireland 2040 is achieved, ensuring that government procurement procedures do not disproportionately favour of Dublin.

INFASTRUCTURE

Delivery of infrastructure projects already promised, including North Quays, to ensure a sustainable, balanced economy. The development is critical for the future of Waterford, in terms of attracting talent, executive accommodation and quality of life.

CONNECTIVITY

The route analysis for proposed M20 (Cork to Limerick should be extended to include alternative routes, including the upgrading of the existing N24 from Waterford to Limerick, connecting the M8 to Limerick at Cahir. Obvious savings that will be achieved should be spent on other transport infrastructural requirements.

TRADE & TOURISM

Delivery of Waterford Airport to maximise on international trade and the growing tourist market.

EDUCATION

Prioritise the upgrading of WIT to University status in order to retain and attract talent, to create and sustain high quality jobs, to provide for lifelong learning requirements of the workforce and attract FDI.

HEALTH

Specialist resources and investment in the provision of acute care including 24/7 cardiac care, A& E and maternity services in Waterford University Hospital, which are vital to ensure that it can cater for both an ageing population as well as current and future population growth within the city and its regional hinterland.

CHILDCARE

Increased and sustained investment in childcare services and early education infrastructure so that quality childcare is affordable and accessible to working parents.

RLP Lunch Gerry Cahill

It is hard to be positive when you get the news that your business is closing its operation. However, one company, Roche Ireland Ltd. in ClareCastle, Co Clare, have succeeded in turning the devasting news into a positive experience which is full of hope.

As part of the Waterford Chamber Regional Leaders Programme, Managing Director of Roche Gerry Cahill addressed participants and mentors at their speaker lunch at WIT Arena with the theme “Exit with Pride & Ready for my Future”.

Introducing Gerry, Sara Mullally, Waterford Chamber Skillnet Network Manager, said: “As an authentic leader Gerry has led the Roche site for over six years, with the last three being the most challenging … and rewarding. It has involved a significant re-structuring, a large re-organsiation of the site, and a subsequent re-engagement of site personnel.”

Taking to the podium, Gerry outlined how Roche is a world leader in developing medicines for unmet medical needs but the Irish plant will officially cease operating in early 2020. When the announcement came three years ago, Gerry and the leadership team decided they wanted their colleagues to leave Roche with pride and a sense of opportunity. To do that Gerry said, “We needed to make time available to develop new skills”.

With a passion for life long learning, Gerry naturally brings a strong business acumen to his role as MD, but his principle focus and passion has been on supporting and developing people and is a firm believer that “a learning culture should result in better business results”.

This proved entirely true for the Roche workforce and through supporting the staff, offering training opportunities and developing their talent, in the three years since the closure announcement, they have had a record output, engagement has increased by 23%, safety and quality standards have increased, more than 50% of staff have green, black or master black belt, over 95% have LEAN training and 80% have moved roles.

Gerry also touched on bringing fun into the workplace by saying “Employee wellbeing is to the core to our programme”, with frequent team building days and community events. In fact, they completed 5,000 hours of wellbeing in the workplace in 2019.

Above all, Gerry said they have encouraged staff to have the confidence to look outside their current role and move forward with pride. He said this couldn’t have been done without the financial support of Roche and also Skillnet Ireland.

Concluding, he said: “I am delighted to share our journey and Leadership learnings with the Waterford Chamber Regional Leaders Programme and participants. Waterford Chamber is a great example of promoting learning and leadership development across many different sectors highlighting that we can learn from each other even if we are doing different work.”

Thanking Gerry, Sara finished the event by informing guests that Waterford Chamber Skillnet funding for training has almost doubled in six years due to demand from members.

“This budget will be to support growth for local industry through training and development of employees and the employability of jobseekers at the transferrable skills level. This should be seen as a significant investment in the region and it shows the commitment member companies have in the development of their personnel in Waterford and the surrounding region.”

The Waterford Chamber Regional Leaders Programme is supported by Waterford Chamber Skillnet, Bausch + Lomb and WIT. The next speaker event will be on April 29th with Edwin Rohan, Head of European and Latin America, Customer Success Acceleration at Google.

For more on the Regional Leaders programme please see www.waterfordchamber.ie or for training needs go to www.waterfordskillnet.ie

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Building a brighter future was the resounding message at the Waterford Chamber Annual Dinner on Friday night last in the Tower Hotel.

Two of Waterford’s most successful sons, Irish Ambassador of the US Dan Mulhall and John Treacy, CEO Sport Ireland, took to the podium in front of business leaders at the black tie event which was sponsored by Manguard Plus.

“I am delighted to be in Waterford for this year’s Chamber dinner. These annual gatherings represent an opportunity to reflect on the achievements of Waterford’s business community and to look at the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead”, said Ambassador Mulhall.

“As Ambassador to the United States, I am optimistic about opportunities that exist for our companies to expand their footprint in the US market and about our capacity to continue to attract significant, high-quality investment from the United States.  This will require a concerted effort on the part of our business community, supported by Government and our State Agencies with which I work very closely in promoting Ireland in the USA.”

Opening the event, Mayor of the City & County of Waterford, Cllr John Pratt said: “We are all here because we have all chosen to invest in Waterford.  We are building a vibrant and sustainable place, strongly leading the South East. We in Waterford are positioned to lead in terms of business development, economic growth and educational excellence. We have set an optimistic and ambitious vision for the future of Waterford. Our city and county welcomes all opportunities as we build a city where businesses can grow and develop and communities flourish.”

Reiterating the message, Waterford Chamber President Jonathan Earl said: “While Waterford Chamber is the voice of business, we all have a voice and a responsibility for what we say. We absolutely should and we are asking for equity, for something better.

“The Chamber has found its voice, one of many voices representing the diversity within Waterford, most speaking a consistent and confident message. But positivity is not enough, we need the kind of confidence that others are jealous of, that inspires others to choose Waterford.”

Taking to the podium, Sport Ireland CEO John Treacy said: “I love my county”. He went on to regale the audience with tales of his sporting glory, while also saying the Olympics “are looking good for Ireland”.

Concluding his address, John Treacy told the business community to “be ambitious, reach for the stars because Waterford is a fabulous city and a fabulous county.”

The Annual Dinner was sponsored by Manguard Plus and the drinks reception was sponsored by McDonald Dwyer Reddy & Byrne Insurances.

 

North Quays

Waterford Chamber welcomes the confirmation that Falcon Real Estate Development Ireland will lodge the application for Planning Permission to Waterford City & County Council for the North Quays development by the end of November.

Commenting on the announcement, Gerald Hurley, Waterford Chamber CEO, said: “There has been a lot of speculation and uncertainty around the North Quays in recent months, so following this announcement, it is encouraging that this can now be put to bed and we can move forward.

“We have always believed the North Quays development will be the catalyst for growth, particularly in terms of delivering on Project Ireland 2040. This is a €350 million investment which will create 2,300 full time roles with an additional 4,500 indirect jobs. It will cement Waterford’s position as Capital of the South East and the driver of economic growth and we are hopeful that there will be no further delays in the planning process, so we start date of quarter four of 2020 can be guaranteed.”

Annual Dinner 2019 Speakers

Two of Waterford’s famous sons, Irish Ambassador to the US Dan Mulhall and Sport Ireland CEO John Treacy are the guest speakers at this year’s Waterford Chamber Annual Dinner on Friday, November 8th in the Tower Hotel.

The Annual Dinner, sponsored by Manguard Plus, is the highlight of Waterford’s business calendar and promises again to be an excellent social event with a great opportunity for networking and client hospitality. The evening will begin at 7:30pm with a drinks reception sponsored by McDonald Dwyer Reddy & Byrne Insurances, followed by speeches and dinner.

As Waterford continues to make its mark on the global stage, Waterford Chamber President Jonathan Earl is delighted to be joined by two influential speakers for the business dinner.

“Waterford is on the cusp on something great right now and no matter the size of your business, we must all be aware that we are now operating in a global environment. Who more fitting to address this than our speakers, Ambassador Dan Mulhall and John Treacy. This year’s annual dinner will celebrate the global successes of our ex-patriots who are still flying the flag for Waterford around the globe.”

Speaking on behalf of sponsors Manguard Plus, Steve Coleman said “Following our acquisition by Manguard Plus, what began as a small local business, now has a far reaching national and international client base. We may be doing it from a hill in Tramore, but we are dealing with world-wide issues and we are to the forefront of security in that regard. Being associated with a prestigious event such as the Waterford Chamber Annual Dinner is the perfect opportunity for us to showcase our corporate offering to the right audience.”

Group tickets and individual tickets are available from Waterford Chamber at a cost of €100 incl VAT, available here. For more information contact Lynda Lawton on 051 311130.

 

Saudi Delegation Oct 2019

Welcoming the delegation to City Hall, Mayor of Waterford Cllr John Pratt said: “Waterford has many links with Saudi Arabia, not least of all the impending transformation of the North Quays with Falcon Real Estate Development and we hope to strength those links further today as we showcase the many great companies who are all integral to the economic development of Waterford as the Capital of the South East region.”

Following the Mayor’s opening address, some of Waterford’s leading business figures offered overview presentations on the various sectors of note in Waterford and the South East region, including Michael Quinn, Head of Economic Development, Waterford City & County Council; Frank O’Regan, Ireland South East; David Beirne, UPMC Whitfield; Louise Grubb, Q1 Scientific; Richard Hayes and Brian Foley, WIT and Rob Cass, Falcon Real Estate Development.

Following a networking lunch, the delegation were then escorted to two locations, Arblabs and workLAB, where local companies showcased their own innovations and ambitions for expansion.

Speaking after the visit, Niall Griffin, Project Crystal Company said: "The visit with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia business delegation was very successful on all fronts especially as we met with the decision makers and businesses who are first point contacts in their industry sectors. I was impressed with the overall mix and spread of industries and services they were keen to do business with and for the region it was a win win.”

Michael Flynn, Managing Director of FLI Group said: “It was very encouraging to meet with the Saudi business delegation to Waterford yesterday and to hear about their ambitious development plans for Saudi Arabia. Their 2030 vision and development plan to diversify the Saudi economy away from their dependence on oil will create many opportunities for Irish and other investors who see Saudi Arabia as a growth market. The FLI Group as an active member of the global Green Tech community will be actively appraising any opportunities where our technologies and services can be utilised.”

Meanwhile, Michael Malone of CMC Hygea said: “The event proved to be very beneficial for CMC Hygea and an all-round positive experience, which we were delighted to be part of.”

Commenting on the success of the visit, Waterford Chamber CEO Gerald Hurley said: “The level of business done throughout the day and in such a short space of time is hugely encouraging. The delegation were clear in their intent, they were here to develop links with Saudi Arabia and look at both the inward and outward investment opportunities. They were hugely impressed by the innovation and vision that was presented to them during the morning and afternoon sessions and have given us their assurances that they will be conducting a number of follow ups in the coming weeks. Waterford was the only city the delegation visited outside of Dublin and we were determined, with the support of Waterford City & County Council, to put the best foot forward in showcasing the opportunities for business in Waterford. We will continue to develop the relationship with Saudi Arabia and are confident there will be some very positive outcomes from the visit.”

18 Toys4Engineers

As Waterford and the South East’s reputation as a hub for innovation and technology continues to rise, so too does the expectation around Toys4Engineers, which took place on Thursday last in WIT Arena.

Having won Event of the Year at the Chambers Ireland Awards earlier this year, the team at Waterford Chamber, along with partners Waterford Institute of Technology and main sponsor Clem Jacob Hire, pulled out all the stops to improve the event again this year.

In addition to the Expo, which saw over 80 companies come from all over Ireland and the UK, new additions included CPD certified Masterclasses thanks to Waterford Chamber Skillnet, covering topics such as Energy Efficiency and Carbon Reduction with Crowley Carbon; Cobotics with Cobotics Skillnet; Better Planet Packaging with Smurfit Kappa and Additive Manufacturing with 3DWIT.

There was also a hugely successful Students Seminar, where a group of industry experts offered their thoughts on career paths, the opportunities in industry, internships and graduate programmes.

The morning began with a Networking Breakfast compliments of Bank of Ireland and was shortly followed by the new ‘Meet the Buyer’ segment, sponsored by Waterford Local Enterprise Office.

According to Waterford Chamber CEO Gerald Hurley, ‘Meet The Buyer’ was a revelation for all concerned. “Over the past number of years, we were aware of contracts that came out of Toys4Engineers and we really wanted to maximise the opportunity for our exhibitors, so we approached a number of the local multi-national companies to come on board and thankfully they were more than willing.

“The seven companies, including Bausch + Lomb, Nypro, Cartamundi, West Pharma, Ball, Dawn Meats and Sanofi, met with 10 ‘sellers’ over a two hour period and the feedback has been fantastic. It gave the exhibitors the opportunity to pitch their business for ten minutes and we have been told that there will be a significant number of follow-ups in the weeks and months ahead.

“Ultimately, our role in the Chamber is to support our members and help them grow their business and Meet the Buyer was the perfect opportunity to do just that. We will certainly look at growing the offering again next year.

“Networking, collaboration and sharing of knowledge is central to what Waterford Chamber is about. Toys4Engineers provides considerable opportunities for B2B networking, enabling companies to meet prospective customers, suppliers, collaborators or future employees.”

According to Dr Ken Thomas, Head of School of Engineering at WIT, Toys4Engineers confirms that Waterford and the wider region is increasingly a centre of excellence in terms of engineering, innovation and technology. He was hugely encouraged by the large attendance keen to consider a career within these sectors.

“It is great to see so many young people finding out more about the high-tech toys being developed and used by engineers to make a better world. We are all aware of the skills shortages and terrific job opportunities, so it is really encouraging to see the next generation having a high level of interest. Our Students Seminar showed just how many good quality lives roles and opportunities there are available right now and with a fantastic quality of life also on offer, Waterford and the South-East is a great choice for advancing your career and getting that perfect work life balance.”

Main sponsor Clem Jacob said it was the ‘perfect playground’ for him. “This is our second year sponsoring Toys4Engineers, it's a perfect opportunity to showcase all the latest technology and equipment which relates to the rental industry. We had a couple of very constructive Meet the Buyer meetings, had the opportunity to showcase our own toys and engage with so many of our customers and potential clients. It’s a great day out and something we are proud to be associated with.”

WLR’s Damien Tiernan was live from the event with thanks to Crystal Valley Tech, while Toys4Engineers was sponsored by Clem Jacob Hire and supported by the Engineering the South East, IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Waterford Local Enterprise Office, Waterford Chamber Skillnet and Cobotics Skillnet.

Following today’s Budget 2020 statement by Minister Paschal Donohoe, Chambers Ireland welcomes the overall approach of the Government to opt for prudence and to prepare for the very real possibility of a No-Deal Brexit.

Speaking this afternoon, Chambers Ireland President Siobhan Kinsella said, “Under normal circumstances, with the economy performing as well as it has been, we would be expecting a very different Budget. But in the words of the Minister, this is an uncertain and unprecedented time. We called for a Budget which would focus on steadying the ship of state and provide greater clarity regarding the measures that are to be made available in a no-deal Brexit scenario. Minister Donohoe delivered this clear statement today.

Brexit

We agree that it is a wise approach to provide financial flexibility into the Budget which will allow the government to respond and adapt to the consequences of a No-Deal Brexit, particularly if its impact is worse than foreseen. One recommendation we would make to Government is to call for any new support to be easy to access and easy to understand. The likely chaos of a crash-out Brexit will mean that SMEs will need access to immediate support and swift interventions.

Carbon Tax

The approach by the Government to increase the Carbon Tax and ring-fence the revenue is welcome in principle, but it is our view that these measures do not go far enough.  We had called on Government to ring-fence all revenue from carbon tax, which is likely to exceed €500m in 2020, not just the revenue from the increases. So we would like additional clarity on what the Government’s intention is on this.

Further, while the types of green investment that Government has announced are welcome, including the initiatives to support the Midlands, it’s difficult to see the approach as anything more than a missed opportunity. We could have used this Budget to do much more to support investment in grid infrastructure, a nationwide roll-out of EV charging points and the retrofitting of homes.

Green Investment

Linking the carbon tax to tangible actions that help decarbonise the economy will be essential if these taxes are to gain public acceptance. If carbon taxes are to change behaviour then low-carbon alternatives will need to be available, in both urban and regional areas. While public transport will play a large role in urban areas, the regional areas will need the widespread take up of E-Vehicles, and this will need considerable investment in our electricity grid.

In addition, our members need to see an advance multi-year schedule of committed increases, rather than a vague undated commitment, so that businesses can plan and invest accordingly. This schedule needs to come in tandem with an ongoing impact assessment to see how tax increases and green investment is actually contributing to a reduction in the use of carbon fuels and switch to more environmentally friendly behaviour.

Housing

The supply of affordable and appropriate housing remains a critical issue for the business community, affecting productivity, recruitment and inflating wage growth demands. With so many economic threats on the horizon, policy uncertainty would discourage investment, therefore the maintenance of existing housing policies, such as Rent Pressure Zones and Help to Buy, is useful.

But while this certainty is welcome, an independent review of all our housing policies is essential so that any wasteful policies can be culled, and those resources made available for the most effective measures that will support supply and affordability.

We are disappointed with the low level of funding available to the Land Development Agency which suggests that there will be another year of missed opportunities for that agency. There needs to be a more ambitious vision for housing policies and this vision must integrate the requirements of the climate action plan and the national development plan. For example, while we welcome the continuation of the Living City Initiative, for it to be effective it needs to be amended so that it benefits a broader range of urban areas, and the Government has an opportunity to amend this in the Finance Bill.

Supporting SMEs

Last but not least, the reforms to the KEEP scheme and the increase to Earned Income Tax Credit, which are long over-due, will be well-received by the self-employed and entrepreneurs.

While the Minister has been adamant that there will not be another budget if a no-deal Brexit emerges, perhaps it may become necessary to have an interim budget should the threat of Brexit recede. Ultimately, it’s the big things, like affordable housing and childcare, that businesses will need to see much more progress on in the months and years ahead.

With only days to go to Waterford Chamber’s Toys4Engineers, a selection of Waterford’s leading companies are gearing for the new ‘Meet the Buyer’ segment at the Chambers Ireland Event of the Year.

Sponsored by Waterford Local Enterprise Office, the Meet the Buyer segment is designed to support local businesses and increase supply-chains in the region.

Over the past number of years, there have been many new contracts generated through Toys4Engineers. Waterford Chamber believes it is vital to foster these relationships and increase discussions around local procurement.

According to Waterford Chamber CEO Gerald Hurley, “Ultimately, Toys4Engineers is a business event and while there is great fun to be had, the goal is to network, showcase your products and generate sales. This has occurred organically over the past number of years, but this year, with the help of Enterprise Ireland and the support of Waterford Local Enterprise Office, we want to bring a more formal structure to it. We are delighted to have the support of West Pharma, Bausch + Lomb, Ball, Sanofi, Nypro, Dawn Meats and Cartamundi, who are all giving their time to ‘Meet the Buyer’ and we are working with them to arrange strategic meetings with indigenous companies who are exhibiting on the day.”

Jacqui Gaule, Waterford Local Enterprise Office says Meet the Buyer is a good fit for them in terms of supporting smaller companies. “It can be difficult to understand the procurement process and for many companies, they can’t get past the first hurdle. This is a fantastic opportunity for them to get face to face time with the decision makers and showcase their products. We have fantastic companies here in Waterford and we are delighted to be in a position to support and encourage local interactions in this regard.”

Toys4Engineers will take over WIT Arena this coming Thursday, starting with a networking breakfast at 8am and followed by the Indoor and Outdoor Expo, with thanks to Clem Jacob Hire, CPD certified Masterclasses with Waterford Chamber Skillnet, the aforementioned Meet the Buyer and a Students Seminar presented by Waterford Institute of Technology and Engineering the South-East.

The event is free to attend and open to the public - to register in advance, log on to www.toys4engineers.ie

RLP Lunch Michael OFlynnMichael O’Flynn, CEO and Chairman of the O’Flynn Group, was the guest speaker at the launch of Waterford Chamber’s third Regional Leaders Programme at Faithlegg.

Michael is a leading figure in the Irish and UK property sectors and is widely recognised for his experience and expertise. Having established in 1978 as a house building company, Michael has grown the business into one of the largest property development companies in Ireland, while also making a significant impact in the UK and across Europe.

He is a firm believer in mentoring and embracing the challenge of change in business. “After 41 years in business, I have seen how constant change has shaped by business and my personal life. Embracing and confronting change is fundamental to any business and everyone has to accept that it will be a constant and inherent part of life.”

While Michael offered mentors and participants an insight into his own story over the past four decades, he was also vocal on the need for change in the housing sector.

“The current housing strategy is failing the current generation, who are increasingly despairing of a system that is not delivering. Ultimately the key to the future success of the property market is balance. We need balance between delivery of units to rent, units to buy and social housing. We also need a balance between policies that support the green agenda and our long term transport plans, infrastructure and settlement objectives, and immediate action which recognises the entitlement of the current generation to housing and actions which underpins efforts to facilitate viable development of housing and apartments in the short and medium term.”

Waterford Chamber Jonathan Earl spoke about the importance of the shared learning experience and recognising Leadership Excellence in business.

“Entering this programme and accepting that you need to improve takes confidence. The region needs that confidence. It needs people like you who have signed up to this ambitious programme, people who want to grow. The region needs that ambition. It too needs to grow, and you as current and future leaders of business in the region have a responsibility to push that growth, to enable it.”

Mark Fitzgerald, HR Director at Bausch + Lomb said: “Systems are really important in business, but it is people and relationships that can really make the difference. This programme is an enabler to help make that difference.”

Recognising the importance of the Regional Leaders Programme and its value to the business community, Waterford Chamber Skillnet have funded the programme by 25%.

Sara Mullally, Network Manager says: “The expertise in this room is extraordinary, people are willing to give their time and are eager to learn. Really powerful things can come from that. Waterford Chamber Skillnet is already focused on 2020. We are here to support the needs of the business community and the Regional Leaders Programme is a prime example of what emerges when ideas are shared and collaboration happens. We have recently received notification of an increase in funding from 25% to up to 45% for training and innovative programmes so we welcome any enquiries with regards to workforce development, training innovations or future workforce planning.”

Supported by Bausch + Lomb, Waterford Chamber Skillnet and Waterford institute of Technology, the Regional Leaders Programme is designed to develop business leaders for the future through mentorship and skills sharing and is aimed at professionals who want to develop their leadership skills or for companies who would like to increase the capacity of their internal talent pool to ensure the next generation of their company is in safe hands. The programme includes monthly group sessions, one to one mentoring sessions and inspiring speaker lunches.

For more information on the Regional Leaders Programme, please contact Lynda Lawton or Kelly Cummins at Waterford Chamber on 051 872639.

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"Both Waterford Chamber and Bausch + Lomb understand the importance of leadership for the achievement of business success. Working with Waterford Chamber on the Regional Leaders Programme demonstrates just how effective it can be to come together and work collaboratively. The Regional Leaders Programme provides an opportunity to share our talents and expertise with the motivation to really ‘make things happen’."

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