Chamber News

CelltrionWaterford Chamber is delighted to welcome Celltrion Healthcare as Chamber members and to support the role out of their onsite Covid-19 rapid screening service. This will see Waterford become the first city in Ireland to receive the service.

Celltrion have agreed to offer Waterford Chamber members discounted rates for the testing, which has already been provided to the senior intercounty hurling, football and camogie teams during this year’s All Ireland championships.

Welcoming the initiative, Waterford Chamber CEO Gerald Hurley said: “As the country is set to reopen, there is an urgent need for volume testing and speedy results. This offer from Celltrion will allow for this and we are delighted to be able to provide this service for our 600+ members.”

These sentiments were echoed by Independent TD Matt Shanahan who said: “I welcome the opportunity to see antigen testing rolled out in the South East which will offer employers Covid Screen Testing to augment the public health PCR Covid protocols. I am delighted that Waterford businesses will be the first to see this en masse.”

The service is a nurse led screening programme, which incorporates the use of Celltrion’s rapid antigen test kit-DiaTrust™. All testers are experienced at providing community based medical treatments and testing services for Covid-19 and a number of them have delivered RT-PCR testing on behalf of the HSE to Waterford businesses.

With Specificity of 100% and Sensitivity 95% (key accuracy measurement), DiaTrust™ is a best-in-class Lateral Flow ICA (immunochromatographic assay) test. It produces a qualitative, point-in-time result, in 15 minutes, using nasal swab sample.

Gerald explains how the offer will work. “Businesses who want to avail of the discounted rates can contact us directly and we will liaise with Celltrion on your behalf. They will then make direct contact with the company and make the detailed arrangements for the appointment.”

Screening will be conducted onsite during office hours Monday-Friday, by appointment with 48hours notice. Depending on volume, tests can cost as little as €30 each. Any positive results and then immediately referred to the HSE Covid Pathway.

Celltrion is a world leader in pharmaceutical production and innovation. DiaTrust™ is only available through Celltrion Healthcare to ensure the appropriate support service is provided with the product.

For more information, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

North Quays Mall EntranceWaterford Chamber CEO Gerald Hurley has welcomed the funding for the North Quays project saying it is “a great day for Waterford”.

Following the announcement by Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD of the approval of €80.6m in Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF), along with an additional with €30 from the Department of Transport, through the National Transport Authority, Gerald said: “€110.6m will go a long way towards the regeneration project that will be a game changer for Waterford and the South East.

“This is a prime piece of real estate, one of the best in Ireland if not in Europe and we have just been handed the key to unlock its potential. For years, the one stumbling block has been the infrastructure required to enable the development of the site. This funding will now resolve that issue and the potential it brings is limitless.

“It will re-enforce Waterford’s position as the Capital of the South East. This is the largest commercial development in Waterford and currently the largest urban regeneration project in the country and the impact it will have on our economy is a very positive step forward for future growth, in line with Project Ireland 2040.

“At this point we must acknowledge the hard work of all stakeholders involved in getting this funding over the line, namely Waterford City & County Council and Falcon Malls Real Estate and we are proud to have played our part in actively lobbying on the issue over the past number of years.

“This week also brought the announcement of Greenway funding to extend to New Ross which is fantastic and will see it run through the heart of the North Quays.

“In the midst of this pandemic, these are bright days. Let us be positive, work together and grasp this opportunity with both hands. Government have delivered, now it’s our time”, Gerald concluded.

Chambers Ireland today (6th November 2020) has published its submission to the European Commissioner for Trade as part of a public consultation for a revised trade strategy.

The submission calls on the European Commission to ensure that the revised strategy emphasises the importance of open, rules-based trade. In future negotiations, trade agreements must prioritise SME-friendly access, support innovation, and align with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Speaking this morning, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive and Deputy President of Eurochambres Ian Talbot said, “Trade and investment have never been more important for the Irish and European economy. Throughout the last recession it helped stabilise the economy when domestic demand remained weak.

“Exports have also supported the Irish economy through the past several months of COVID-19 restrictions. Ensuring that Irish companies can continue to benefit from increased access to new and existing markets around the world will be vital in the pandemic recovery period and post the Brexit transition period by sustaining growth in the years to come.

“While Irish eyes continue to watch with interest as the United States decides on its next President, whatever the result may be, the US will continue to be one of our most important trade partners. It is crucial that the European Commission continues to work towards increased transatlantic co-operation in support of more open markets. 

“Closer to home, we’ve been working closed with the Tánaiste and officials as part of the SME Growth Taskforce. Improving the internationalisation of SMEs is critical if we are to improve the productivity of small and medium enterprises. While making up more than 99.7% of active enterprises, they are responsible for less than 20% of national output, and more significantly, less than 6.3% of SMEs export anything, putting Ireland at the lowest level among all 36 OECD members.. At minimum we need to do more to improve SME trade within the Single Market and boost investment in programmes like the Enterprise Europe Network.

“Beyond the EU Single Market, SME engagement with free-trade agreements is particularly poor and we believe there is an opportunity to drastically improve this. The reality is that even in the best-case scenario, Irish businesses will find its trading relationship with the UK to be fundamentally different after 1 January 2021.

“Even if a free-trade deal is successfully negotiated, Irish businesses will have to navigate new customs requirements, rules of origin and non-tariff barriers. It is our view that we should invest in a national strategy and campaign to improve the capacity of SMEs to engage with and benefit from FTAs. Through the development of an online one-stop-shop, there is huge potential to train business on customs procedures and raise awareness of new markets.

“Learning from our experience in Brexit supports to businesses, a nationally implemented Action Plan for Trade, that is properly resourced, should target SMEs who may only casually trade and support them to think more globally. 

“Ireland’s ability to benefit from the huge negotiating strength and resources of the EU’s trade and investment infrastructure continues to lead to ever greater export opportunities across the globe, providing new markets to counter the uncertainties prevailing in some of our traditional markets.

“In a post-Brexit world that is navigating the COVID-19 recovery, an ambitious, progressive European trade strategy will support Irish business to diversify, compete and remain resilient.”

eWaterfordWaterford Chamber is leading the way in terms of support for retailers as we move through a second lockdown.

Waterford’s largest business representative organisation has been working on a number of initiatives to promote a shop local campaign and ensure businesses are given every opportunity during these difficult times.

According to CEO Gerald Hurley, the priority has to be ensuring money is spent in the local economy. “We have always been advocates for supporting local businesses but this year we are going out even stronger with that message. We all need to do our bit to help the local economy and we are asking everyone to make a conscious effort to shop locally this Christmas.

“During the first lockdown, we supported Helloworld.ie in the development of www.ewaterford.com and have now taken over administration of the site to create a one stop shop for online buyers who want to support local businesses.

“This platform is free for anybody with a product to sell. It couldn’t be simpler and there is no excuse for not using it if you are in business. In fact, we are even populating the site for businesses, saving them the time and resources they would ordinarily need to sign up to a site like this. We have two members of staff dedicated to working with businesses to set up their accounts, upload products and get them earning as soon as possible. There are no fees or hidden charges and it is open to anyone looking to sell, whether you have an existing website or not.

In addition to providing a free platform for retailers, Waterford Chamber are also promoting the Waterford Shop Local Gift Vouchers, in collaboration with Waterford City & County Council and the Waterford Business Group.

“If you are getting organised now even with some retailers closed, or if you are nervous about buying a voucher from a specific business in case they may be forced to close, we encourage you to consider the Waterford Shop Local Gift Vouchers. They can be used in over 160 outlets across Waterford and Tramore, from supermarkets to fashion stores and much more, so there is something for everyone and you are guaranteed the money is staying in Waterford.

“We have been running an extensive online campaign to promote the vouchers with a number of our redemption partners and even Santa is a big fan and agreed to do an online promo video for us.

“We have been working closely with Waterford City and County Council and the Waterford Business Group to get the message out there about the vouchers and we are delighted to announce that Waterford Credit Union, in Parnell Street, Upper Grange and in Tramore, have come on board as retailers of the vouchers. They now have plenty of vouchers in stock, as do The Book Centre.

“You can also order your vouchers online at www.waterfordchamber.ie. We want businesses to consider the vouchers as alternatives to Christmas party nights or as Christmas bonuses, particularly as they are tax free up to €500 per employee.”

“Like everyone else, we have had to adapt during Covid 19, but the core value of Waterford Chamber remains the same and that is to help and support our business community. These initiatives can make a big difference and I would encourage everyone to get involved and do their bit for Waterford.”

WGV Oct 2020Waterford’s retail and hospitality sectors could be in line for a €50 million COVID stimulus if Government make changes to the Benefit in Kind (BIK) scheme, according to a new economic study.

As a measure to protect retail and hospitality jobs in Waterford, Waterford Chamber is calling for a temporary increase from €500 to €2,000 for non-cash rewards under the Governments innovative Small Benefit Exemption Scheme for Tax Free vouchers and extending it to normal pay.

This change could see Waterford employees receive part of their gross pay in the form of Waterford Shop Local Gift Vouchers which are redeemable in Waterford’s shops, bars, restaurants and hotels.

A new study by economist Jim Power shows that with 1.3 million Irish workers using the scheme there would be an initial input of €2.6 billion into the retail and hospitality sectors with a multiplier effect of additional spending increasing this to €3.9 billion. If 16,500 workers in Waterford were to use the scheme it would provide a €50 million stimulus for the county’s retail and hospitality sector. 

Waterford Chamber believes this will offer a desperately needed boost for these sectors, with domestic demand forecast to decline 6.5% in 2020 and consumer spending on goods and services forecast to fall 7.7%. The hospitality sector has also seen the greatest decline in employment this year accounting for 30% (53,600 jobs) of jobs lost, with employment in the retail sector making up 5% (15,600 jobs) of jobs lost.

Using Waterford Shop Local Gift Vouchers ensures that this change to the BIK scheme will generate significant domestic economic activity in a short period of time, encouraging spending and helping to build consumer confidence at an uncertain time. With personal saving having increased since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, this scheme will encourage spending across the county for the hardest hit sectors of the economy.

Adapting the current BIK scheme will also deliver a tax saving for Waterford workers and businesses, with up to €615 saved per employee increasing the spending power of consumers. The state will benefit too with €390 million in additional VAT receipts from gift card and voucher spending in shops, bars, restaurants and hotels.

Speaking about the proposed changes to the BIK scheme, Gerald Hurley, CEO of Waterford Chamber said; “Waterford’s retail and hospitality sectors have been amongst the hardest hit since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with hundreds of jobs lost and many businesses facing closure. Stimulating these sectors is hugely important for the Waterford economy and we believe incentivising spending over saving through the BIK scheme is a cost-effective way for the Government to support our county’s businesses.

“This proposal to temporarily increase the BIK scheme limit for non-cash gifts from €500 to €2,000 and to extend it to normal gross pay will result in tax savings for employees and will encourage spending in local shops, bars, restaurants and hotels. This has the potential to deliver a €50 million stimulus for our local retail and hospitality sectors at a time when it is most needed.”

eWaterford

We appreciate how tough things are at the moment for many Waterford businesses and we want to help you.

During the first lockdown we supported the development of www.ewaterford.com, an online store where you can sell your products completely free. We have taken over the administration of that site and are developing Waterford’s online discount store. This is the perfect opportunity for you to sell your excess or sale stock and the great news is we’ll do everything for you and it won’t cost anything.

Whether you already have your own website or have none at all, it doesn’t matter. We put the buyer directly in touch with you to complete the sale, so there are no third party fees involved. Waterford Chamber are committed to marketing the site and encouraging online traffic and you can also get involved through your own social media channels.

Here are the steps:

  1. Let us know you want to be involved by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  2. We will contact you directly for information and images.
  3. We will create your online account and post your products.
  4. Start making money.

Your doors may be closed or footfall at a minimum but that shouldn’t stop you trading. Let us help you.

COVID slider2

Government must use lockdown to develop clear and definitive plans for the future according to Gerald Hurley, CEO Waterford Chamber.

“As the reality dawns that come Thursday our business community is set to suffer another crippling blow, we are calling on the Government to use this time wisely. There seems to be a methodology here of open and close which cannot continue. We appreciate the current effort is designed to salvage the Christmas period, but what cannot happen is that we face more of the same in 2021.

“A clear and concise plan must be put in place to support our business community and ensure the appropriate infrastructure is in place to support local economies to re-open safely and avoid succumbing to new closures into the new year.

“Uncertainty is devastating for businesses owners and operators who are already reeling from the blows that the Covid-19 shocks have dealt their businesses. There needs to be clarity from Government about the economic environment that businesses will be operating in once the restrictions are eased and in the meantime, the right supports must be made available for business owners and employees who face being out of work for the immediate future.

“But we also have a responsibility. We must use our time wisely, we have not avoided a second wave, but we must do all that we can to avoid a third. For employers, this means interpreting the restrictions conservatively rather than looking for loopholes. If people can work from home, then that is the only place they should be working from. Employers must continue to do what they can to support their employees to work remotely.

“If we are to have any chance at salvaging the Christmas season for our local economy, we must act collectively, taking responsibility both for ourselves and our businesses. If compliance is not strong, if contacts are not minimised, these restrictions may not thaw until Spring.

“There is an opportunity here now to be bold, adapt your business, get online, be creative, ensure your future. Interact with others, seeks advice, share ideas and summon the determination to succeed in spite of the challenges.

“It is desperately sad and frustrating that we find ourselves in this situation again, particularly as Waterford was faring so well in terms of Covid cases. However, Government must get a handle on the situation, contact tracing endeavours need to be increased, we need more testing and faster and the HSE has to step up and be accountable. Our frontline workers are doing everything in their power to support our community and they need to have the backing of the state agency. Focus must be put on the one crisis everyone can foretell – lack of hospital beds. We’re not medical experts and we can see it, so surely the Government and HSE have pre-emited it. But why isn’t anything been done? This is simply not good enough.

“Our thoughts are with those who are directly affected – those who are sick, those who are treating the afflicted, and those who are recovering their own health. And then there are the people who Covid-19 impacts indirectly – those whose medical treatments have been cancelled in the face of the demands that this surge is placing upon our healthcare system, those who are isolated because of social distancing measures, and those that are losing their livelihoods.

“This is a time for comforting each other, working together to get through these tough times, reaching out to help those most vulnerable and supporting those who need us. We are appealing to everyone to ensure safety first and while our office is closed, we remain operational and are here to support in any way we can.”

Following an online meeting of Chambers Ireland and CEOs from across the network earlier today (19th October 2020), Chamber leaders call on Government to ensure rapid delivery of supports for businesses impacted by this new wave of restrictions. Government must also ensure these restrictions serve their purpose in reducing spread of COVID-19. This time must be used wisely over the coming weeks to ensure the appropriate infrastructure is in place to support local economies to re-open safely and avoid succumbing to new closures into the new year.

Speaking this evening, Chambers Ireland Chief executive, Ian Talbot, said, “It is desperately sad and frustrating that we find ourselves shuttering our country again in the face of this rising wave of Covid-19 cases. Firstly, out thoughts are with those who are directly affected – those who are sick, those who are treating the afflicted, and those who are recovering their own health. And then there are the people who Covid-19 impacts indirectly – those whose medical treatments have been cancelled in the face of the demands that this surge is placing upon our healthcare system, those who are isolated because of social distancing measures, and those that are losing their livelihoods.

“Along with the direct impact on the health of the nation, it is our domestic economy that continues to bear the brunt of the economic impact of Covid-19. Today’s news of further restrictions will be devastating for many people. However, we must look forward. As we have been through the experience of restrictions before, we now know better what needs to be done.

Timeliness

“We know that early action limits the consequences of Covid-19. Delaying action only exacerbates the problems we encounter, which makes overcoming a greater challenge in the long run. Throughout this crisis Chambers Ireland has consistently argued that under-reaction, and delayed reaction, are greater threats to our security and our collective welfare than over-reaction. Supports for businesses must be implemented with even greater urgency than they were in the first wave

“If these supports are to be effective at maintaining employment they need to be of immediate benefit to the affected businesses. The time for mentoring and vouchers to be considered as solutions has passed. The Covid-19 Restriction Support Scheme must also be made available immediately, or we will see huge numbers, particularly from the retail sector, laid off in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Wage supports for employees and the self-employed will need to be increased if businesses are to be able to continue through the restriction period. Extensions to CRO and Revenue filing deadlines should also be considered.

Collaboration

“Decisions need to be made in collaboration with the affected parties and followed up with immediate action. Too often during this crisis, initial policy responses had to be reviewed and amended as problems with them became apparent. This has delayed their implementation and reduced their efficacy.

“Collaboration also needs to be improved with Northern Ireland and along the border counties to ensure that the policy response on both sides is measured. It is critical that divergent policy responses do not incentivise non-essential travel or commerce.

End Uncertainty

“Uncertainty is devastating for businesses owners and operators who are already reeling from the blows that the Covid-19 shocks have dealt their businesses, the drip-drip of leaked communications is undermining businesses, and confidence, at a national level. There needs to be clarity from government about the economic environment that businesses will be operating in once the restrictions are eased.

Exiting Restrictions

“Finally, a credible exit strategy needs to be developed by Government on how we are to avoid successive waves of opening and closing the economy. Chambers Ireland has warned that the worst-case scenario for the economy would be to enter a series of sawtooth lockdowns and re-openings due to the significant costs associated with reopening and restocking businesses. With limited capital reserves, and no appetite for new debt under such uncertainty, many businesses may not be able to reopen after this new round of closures.

“Therefore, beyond dealing with the immediate threat of growing Covid-19 numbers, Government must ensure that as we exit this second wave, sufficient dedicated resources will be made available to the public health authorities to create an effective track and trace programme that will have the capacity needed to conduct aggressive backwards tracing of new cases, coupled with local interventions to limit the impact of future outbreaks, and the development of capacity within the health service to cope with increased demands on our critical care services.

Compliance

“We must use our time wisely, we have not avoided a second wave, but we must do all that we can to avoid a third. For employers, this means interpreting the restrictions conservatively rather than looking for loopholes. If people can work from home, then that is the only place they should be working from. Employers must continue to do what they can to support their employees to work remotely.

“If we are to have any chance at salvaging the Christmas season for local economies across the country, we must act collectively, taking responsibility both for ourselves and our businesses. If compliance is not strong, if contacts are not minimised, these restrictions may not thaw until Spring.”

WC Skillnet Survey

We are actively seeking your input into the 2021 Waterford Skillnet Training plan, to help us better inform our delivery for public and in house training next year.

Our aim is to provide training in areas to support you, your staff and business.

Click here to Complete the Survey

Company Led and Industry Focused training for Business - driven by employers to upskill and cross Skill Staff. Up to 50% funded.*

Skills Connect - Employment focused re-skiling for Jobseerkers and those most impacted by Covid-19. This project is also open to employers who may be thinking of Out-skilling or who are recruiting jobseekers who require significant upskilling. 100% funded*

Future Skills - Supporting the development of Innovation in enterprise learning, playing an important role in maintaining a supply of the future skills essnential for the growth of Irish Enterprise. 80% funded*

Your business may apply for funding under one of the headings above. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for details.

The theme of the Chambers Ireland Budget submission is “Place” and through it we called on Government to support businesses to trade through the pandemic, by supporting liquidity, local economies and the long-term investment needs of the whole economy.

Budget 2021 is the largest Budget in the history of the state and makes significant progress in addressing many of the needs of the most exposed members of the business community.

Speaking this afternoon, Chambers Ireland CEO Ian Talbot said, “The context of this Budget is very different to anything we have ever seen. We have been very conscious that the response to the devastating economic impact of COVID-must be to continue investment, spending and support for the most vulnerable parts of the economy.

“Our way through this crisis must be to focus on the bigger picture and to give hope to businesses and local economies throughout the country. It means we must enable and empower our SMEs – the drivers of economic growth in communities across the country – to continue to compete and remain productive throughout the crisis. Most importantly, it means investing in the places where we live and work, so that town and city centres can thrive. In many respects Government has listened to this call. The increase in funding for housing and infrastructure and the creation of a €3.4 billion Fund that will address impacts of both Brexit and COVID-19 is extremely welcome and will go a long way to ensuring a sustainable, equitable recovery across the island.

“Our research highlights how badly businesses have suffered due to the pandemic where, on average, their revenue has faced a decline of approximately 30% and for businesses who have had to close, data shows they face on average €10,000 in re-opening costs. The commitment by Government to extend wage supports and provide funding for businesses who are forced to close is the right approach. We commend Government for heeding our call and developing these supports for the business community. The combination of the new reduced 9% VAT rate for the hospitality sector, extension of wages support scheme throughout next year as needed, and the introduction of the COVID Restrictions Support Scheme is an appropriate targeted response which will support businesses into 2021. 

“Local government and fully resourced local services have never been as important. The extension of Commercial rates waiver was key ask of our network and the additional funding of €300 million is welcome, as local authorities will need the funding that much of the business community will be unable to provide. 2021 will be a challenging year for businesses too however, and it is very possible a further extension will be required into the new year.

“In a Budget like we face this year, we appreciate the challenge facing Government in delivering on every ask of the business community. But there are missed opportunities in this Budget. Government should have done significantly more to invest in the affordability of childcare and to support entrepreneurs through reform of CGT and other entrepreneurial reliefs.

“They could also have been bolder in funding the recovery of urban centres - there is an opportunity for the National Economic Plan to improve on this, and we urge Government to use it.

“The goal of Government in this Budget was to give “hope and confidence”. For this hope and confidence to be delivered, there must be commitment as well, and a strategy to ensure that the places we live, and work are supported to recover.

“Living alongside the pandemic remains our immediate challenge, but a sustainable recovery, that reaches all parts of the country and puts place first, must be central to the National Economic Plan next month.

“Finally, while welcoming the commitments made, clear processes to deliver the funding allocated from Central Government to Local Government and businesses must be put in place as a priority.”

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