Chamber News

North Quays Mall Entrance

Waterford Chamber has welcomed the announcement by Waterford Council that they have granted planning for the North Quays development.

According to Gerald Hurley, CEO Waterford Chamber, “This is a very large piece of the jigsaw and it is an important milestone in progressing the development.

“We are all aware that a vibrant city centre is key is economic growth and the development of our city and the North Quays will be an integral part of that. It will ensure modern riverside accommodation and Grade A office space catering for cutting edge businesses, which will all contribute significantly to attracting our young professionals back to Waterford.

“With a catchment of over 604,000 people within a one hour drive time, the North Quays will be a catalyst for urban regeneration within the region and this is very much in line with the new programme for Government.

“Job creation has to be at the core of everything when we talk of economic development and the North Quays will create substantial job opportunities in the coming years.

“This development will be a game changer for Waterford and the region and we now need Government to deliver on their promise and release the remainder of the funding to the infrastructural needs can be met at the earliest opportunity. We will continue to make representation in this regard, but for the time being, we would like to thank Falcon Malls Real Estate, Waterford Council, Fewer Harrington & Partners and all other stakeholders for their commitment to this important project.”

Waterford Gift Voucher Thoughtful Gifting

Special occasions are important and more so now than ever. Through Waterford Chamber you can still show you care and support the local economy from the comfort of your own home.

The popular Waterford Chamber Shop Local Gift Vouchers, which can be used in over 160 local businesses, are the perfect gift – versatile, convenient and with something to suit everybody. When you choose to gift our vouchers, we can now offer special occasion cards, with your own message, handwritten and delivered by post. The quality Waterford themed cards are created locally and the Chamber team promises to use ‘their best writing’ on the card!

How it works: You can avail of this service by emailing your order to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and include the value of the voucher, the nature of the occasion, the message to include and your phone number so we can contact you to double check all is in order and to take payment.

This is a great way to safely mark special occasions with a thoughtful, practical gift that also supports local jobs and business.

There is a €5 charge for the card and domestic post.

Shop Local Gift Vouchers are particularly important now – it is essential that we support our local economy in these trying times if we want to protect our favourite businesses and safeguard jobs in our community. By keeping our money in our local businesses, we can each be part of the recovery.

Webinar Branding

During this insightful webinar, Colin Byrne, Creative Managing Director of TOTEM Meaningful Branding will guide you on how to identify what you can offer and what your competitors cannot, understand your brand’s essence and identify your USP and learn how to emotionally connect with your audience through the right branding. 

Colin will guide you through the key branding tools they use in their branding workshops, followed by an interactive Q&A to answer any branding queries or issues you may have. 

Following this webinar, you will be able to apply these tools to your business and start preparing your brand for the future. 

You will have a greater understanding on how to:

  • Truly understand your customer and what they need.
  • Identify what you can offer and what your competitors cannot.
  • Help your brand connect emotionally with your audience.
  • Identify your brand’s purpose – what’s your why? 
  • Understand your brand’s essence and identify your USP

Date: Friday, 17th July

Time: 12.45pm

This is a free event but you must register in advance. To do so please go to: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_FTdXSrO1TdWPWgQb8gDyRQ

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

ABOUT TOTEM

TOTEM is an award winning creative branding agency based in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford. The team partner with organisations across a broad spectrum of sectors and work with clients such as Cork Airport, Cork Chamber of Commerce, Fáilte Ireland, Trigon Hotels, EirGen, Trocaire and more. For more information visit www.totem.ie

Waterford Gift Voucher Accepted HereThe Waterford Shop Local Gift Voucher figures have already exceeded last years with close to €120,000 having been put into the business community in recent months.

While this is very encouraging, says Gerald Hurley, CEO Waterford Chamber, there is still a long way to go.

“It is heartening to see the business community step up and make a conscious effort to support the shop local campaign and we have seen an increase in the number of companies looking to support the Waterford Shop Local Gift Voucher initiative. Many are using the vouchers to reward their staff for their hard work over the past few months and this is to be commended.

“Last year we processed €96,000 worth of Shop Local Gift Vouchers and the first six months of this year has exceeded that which is very positive. However, this pales into insignificance when you look at areas like Dungarvan, Dundalk and Letterkenny, towns who are securing anywhere from €600,000 to over €2,000,000 per annum.

“We cannot stress enough the importance of supporting the initiative. We appreciate that some companies have a tradition of purchasing other vouchers, but we would ask them to give serious consideration to the Waterford Shop Local Gift Vouchers for one simple reason – you can be guaranteed the money will be spent locally.

“Out of the 28,000 working population in the Waterford Urban Area, 15,000 reside in Waterford. By choosing to give up to €500 in Waterford Shop Local Gift Vouchers to your employees, you are guaranteeing €6.5 million into the local economy by the non-Waterford residents alone and that’s not to mention the local spend. We must pull together now more than ever and make a collective effort to make a difference.

“We have over 160 participating businesses who will benefit and there is plenty of choice, whether you want to do the weekly shopping, go out for a meal, book a holiday, get some retail therapy or treat yourself to a health and beauty experience.

“In light of Covid-19 and the difficulty businesses have faced, there is no excuse for the business community and general public not to make every effort in supporting local. If you are looking for a gift for a wedding, an anniversary, a new baby, a birthday or a simple thank you, why not consider giving the gift of choice.

“Waterford Council, along with ourselves, Dungarvan and West Waterford Chamber and Waterford Business Group, have recently launched a Shop Waterford, Support Local campaign and the Gift Vouchers are just one part of that.

“We need to be conscious of jobs, of economic growth and of supporting our business community whenever we can. Buying a Waterford Gift Voucher online at www.waterfordchamber.ie or www.ewaterford.com or through the Book Centre, is one small step that will make a huge difference.”

In a disappointing, if expected non-development, Britain has casually avoided the opportunity of applying for an extension to the Brexit transition period.

Businesses throughout Europe, crippled by the Covid-19 crisis wreaking havoc on the Global economy, would have welcomed the opportunity to extend the transition period. An extension would have allowed an ambitious trade deal to be negotiated in a more conducive environment than current circumstances allow.

However, the process of reinforcing Britain’s departure from the EU last January continues its unrelenting journey to gratuitous deadlines, at the expense of negotiating a mutually beneficial, wide ranging future relationship.

The likeliest outcome from the negotiations is now a very hard Brexit and businesses and Governments must redouble their efforts to prepare for this eventuality.

Speaking on 30th June Chambers Ireland Chief Executive, Ian Talbot said, “Every business should plan for a Brexit which will be on World Trade Organisation rules. Should that occur, it will make trade with and through Britain increasingly difficult. Every business which trades, or uses products, components or services that are traded, is likely to be affected in some way.

“No one wants to be bearer of warnings to businesses of the challenges that Brexit will bring – even as they are still trying to reopen their doors and comply with the restrictions that Covid-19 requires – but neglecting the problems of Brexit could stifle the recovery of those businesses currently grappling with the Covid-19 crisis.

“Businesses will have to be realistic about how negotiations are likely to evolve from here. All the signs suggest that even if there is a trade deal completed between now and December it will be so limited in scope that for most businesses it may as well not exist.

“A hard Brexit is now a very likely outcome, businesses need to act accordingly.”

Chambers Ireland Suvey Report June 1Chambers Ireland and our nationwide network of Chambers has today (10th June 2020) published results from a survey of the Irish business community. This survey sought to quantify and highlight the impact of COVID-19 on businesses in our towns, cities and regions across the country.

The fourth in a series, the survey has 1,320 responses and was conducted between the 28th May and 2nd June 2020.

Our latest survey took a read of the business environment in Phase 1 of our economy’s re-opening following the COVID-19 restrictions.

The headline findings are:

  • Business activity levels are extremely low, for those businesses that have returned to operation under Phase 1
  • Businesses that have opened are typically experiencing less than half of their usual levels of business activity for this time of year
  • The median expected revenue over the next three months (relative to what they would have expected to be earning in a typical year) has risen from -60% to -50% over the next three months, so most businesses expect their earnings over the coming three months to be half the normal amount.
  • 25% of businesses expect to have earnings that are -70% of their usual level
  • The impact of revenue decline is being felt more strongly in the regions, notably in the West, Border counties and the South East
  • Smaller operators have seen revenue reduced most significantly, again compounding regional effects for areas which do not have large employers
  • Invoice arrears are increasing with the value of unpaid invoices (relative to 2019) significantly up across all sectors.
  • Almost two thirds of microenterprises and small businesses have experienced both an increase in the value owed to them and an increase in the proportion of debt that is owed to them that is now in excess of 90-days past due.

Speaking this morning, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot said, “Our research clearly shows that the hard work of restarting our economy is only beginning.

“Even in the absence of further waves of COVID-19 there is an immense body of work to be done to restore economic normality. The State will continue to have a large part to play in this as, despite all that has been done, much more government action needs to occur. 

“What our research shows us this morning will not be surprising: small businesses have been the worst hit. Self-employed and sole traders have closed entirely, invoice arrears are increasing, contributing to growing debt levels – and all of these problems are amplified for small businesses.

“Under normal circumstances, we seek to make the business environment more competitive relative to other economies. During a health pandemic, the pursuit of economic competitiveness is now very different. Throughout the crisis, we have been guided by public health advice, and with this we have always been very conscious that the re-opening will be complex, and a risk of a second outbreak is very real.

“We have repeatedly cautioned that if re-opening is not done properly, we risk doing even more damage to the economy. It is for this reason that we need dramatic financial intervention to support SMEs while they continue trading and retain jobs.

“If jobs are to be saved, if businesses are to stay trading, we need to see certainty and clarity on the longer-term economic supports so that businesses can plan for their future. These supports need to address liquidity and cover overheads. Otherwise debt, which is mounting for many businesses, will sink them.

“At the outset of the crisis, we compared COVID-19 to a mini economic ice-age, and that the “un-freezing” of the economy would need far-reaching, ambitious measures to support businesses to re-open and recover. Now is the time for these interventions. At minimum, this will need to include a year-long waiver for impacted business from Commercial Rates, additional funding for Local Authorities, expanded grant aid, and a targeted extension of the Wage Subsidy Scheme for the greater part of the remainder of 2020.

“Our members are also very mindful of the fact that many of the new supports that will need to be put in place will require a new Government, or at the very least, an Oireachtas empowered to legislate. Certainty on policy, supported by legislation and followed by rapid financial intervention, cannot come soon enough.

“In the medium term, the next Programme for Government must urgently address the crisis facing local economies. This must include the financing of an ambitious package of support that invests billions, rather than millions, of euro. Otherwise we will see our cities and towns wither further.

“We also need to look beyond the direct supports to business and consider the bigger picture. Investment in infrastructure and housing must be the centrepiece of a new Programme for Government. Town centres will be at the heart of our economic recovery, if they are not - we are looking into a decade of stunted growth.

“If the pursuit of regional development, job creation and more sustainable local economies is to have any chance of success, there must be a realistically resourced commitment to its delivery.”

Priorities for a Programme for Government

  • Commitment to efficient delivery of key infrastructure projects from transport and housing to energy and water. Retaining the National Planning Framework and Climate Action Plan is critical to the productivity and sustainability of the Irish economy
  • National Taskforce for Town Centres, led by the Department of the Taoiseach
  • Urgent review of the existing third level funding structures so that a sustainable long-term funding model can be put in place that will address the current and capital funding needs of these institutions
  • Introduction of legislation to expand the powers of our cities and towns to address vacancies
  • Introduction of legislation that is needed to support the development of an offshore wind development

Chambers Ireland today (8th June 2020) welcomes news from the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, that the Trading Online Voucher Scheme has received additional funding.

Speaking this afternoon, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot said, “Today’s announcement from Minister Humphreys and Minister Bruton that an additional €14.2 million will be made available for the Trading Online Scheme will be widely welcomed by businesses all over the country.

“The demand for the Scheme over the past number of months has been significant. The ability to trade online has been a lifeline for so many businesses during the lockdown and will continue to be a valuable support, even as we move to Phase Two of reopening the economy. We had been raising the need for additional funding with Minister Humphreys, and so today’s news will be a relief to the many still hoping to apply.

“COVID-19 has been extremely challenging for our local economies, and we are by no means out of the woods just yet. However, the capacity of businesses to innovate, particularly SMEs, during lockdown has proven to be a saving grace for so many retail and hospitality businesses.

“Our message to Government is to emphasise that businesses have suffered immense economic damage over the past two to three months and will require as much financial support from the State in Phase Two and future phases, as they did during the lockdown.

“If this support does not materialise, we risk permanently losing jobs over the coming months, further compounding the damage to the Irish economy. We call on this Government, and the next, to ensure that businesses are appropriately supported to trade through this pandemic. All supports, financial and otherwise, must be made available in a timely and accessible manner, so that the recovery reaches all sectors, in all parts of the country.”

Chambers Ireland welcomes this afternoon’s announcement (5th June 2020) that the “Roadmap to Re-Opening the Economy” will be escalated and compressed to four stages, rather five, and that we can now progress to Phase Two. This signals that we are through the worst of the COVID-19 outbreak, and returning, with caution, to normality.

Speaking this afternoon, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot said, “Getting the balance right between supporting the economy and livelihoods, while also protecting public health, is no easy task. The responsibility of Government in making these decisions is an unenviable one. The business community has shown leadership throughout the crisis, and now that the worst of the Coronavirus outbreak has been quelled, news that an easing of restrictions can now occur will be widely welcomed by our members.

“We have cautioned throughout the crisis that reopening the economy will not be as straightforward as shutting it down. Businesses have suffered immense economic damage over the past two to three months. They will require as much financial support from the State in these phases as they did during the lockdown. If this support does not materialise, we risk permanently losing jobs, and job creators, over the coming months. This will further compound the damage to the Irish economy and restrict our ability to recover quickly.

“The announcement that the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) will be retained until August is extremely welcome, and necessary in supporting the recovery. As we move to Phase Two, we call on Government to work with us in determining what interventions will be required to support different sectors, including retail, manufacturing, tourism, and hospitality.

“However, the absence of clarity on whether the scheme will be opened for new applicants is concerning. Many businesses were not eligible for the TWSS during the lockdown due to lack of liquidity. As these businesses reopen in circumstances where their viability is constrained, wage supports will be crucial.

“We have also repeatedly raised the issue that under the current Guidelines of the scheme replacement staff cannot be hired. This must be altered. We would ask that the Minister work with Revenue to alter the Scheme so that it supports the needs of business.

“We remind Government, and the parties who are negotiating to form the next Government, that the wider needs of the economy must not be forgotten. Investing in our town centres, in infrastructure and in housing was our priority issue ahead of the February election. 

“This has not changed, and in many ways, is now more important. The economy will not recover unless it is sustained through public spending and investment.”

Ahead of this morning’s (5th June 2020) Cabinet meeting, Chambers Ireland welcomed Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, in a digital briefing to Chief Executives and Directors of our network of 40 Chambers across the country.

The Minister briefed the Chamber Network on the economic decisions taken so far to protect incomes and to protect employers, both of whom are operating in extraordinarily difficult circumstances. The Minister also emphasised the need to target future economic interventions in a way that best supports the economy.

Speaking this morning, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot said, “The value of constructive dialogue was evident in this morning’s briefing, and we thank the Minister for his time and his engagement.

“Our message to Government has been consistent throughout the crisis. Unprecedented financial interventions will be required, to support the liquidity and viability of so many businesses who have been impacted by COVID-19.

“Across the board, our members called on the Minister to indicate that the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme will continue beyond its initial deadline. Without this certainty, businesses cannot plan for their reopening until they know what the government will do to support them. The Scheme must also be reopened to new applicants and reformed so that it can protect jobs and ensure the resilience of the long-term needs of the economy.

“Further, our members shared the Minister’s objective that public health must remain the priority of policy, but that this must be paired with a strategy for how we can meaningfully support business. The difficult task of reopening during a pandemic should not be underestimated. As we exit Phase One and look to how we manage the phased reopening of the economy, from retail, to manufacturing to tourism and hospitality, sector and region-specific interventions will be required.

“Regarding the wider needs of the economy, and this will ultimately be a matter for the next Government, the priority issue for Chambers remains the need to invest in our infrastructure, in our towns and in our cities.

Government action to sustain investment through this shock will be hugely important, and as emphasised by the European Commission’s Country-Specific Recommendations for Ireland, public spending and public investment should be non-negotiable. We cannot afford another lost decade and so, public investment must be at the centre of the next Programme for Government.”

Speaking this afternoon (3rd June 2020), following the publication of the May Exchequer Returns, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot said,

“The Exchequer Returns today are a stark reminder of the impact COVID-19 has had not only on the health of our people, but on our economy. If these businesses are to recover in the months ahead, they will need every assistance to do so. It is also vital that we restore taxation levels as rapidly as possible to ensure that we can continue to meet the Government’s increasing Current Expenditure commitments to deal with the consequences of this crisis.

“The collapse in VAT and Excise receipts in the Returns demonstrate the severe difficulty that retail and hospitality businesses are facing, and will continue to face, for some time to come. While protecting public health must remain the priority, this must be paired with a strategy for how we can meaningfully support business to begin the difficult task of reopening.

“To that end, it is crucial that there is greater collaboration between the economic and health advisors to Government to inform the difficult, but necessary decisions needed in the coming weeks, as we move to reopen the economy.

“As we come to the end of Phase One, there must be genuine engagement from Government on the kinds of financial supports that will need to be in place. This includes not only the retention of the Wage Subsidy Scheme and an extension of the Commercial Rates waiver, but also requires creative thinking in how we fund the redesign of our town centres so that they can support businesses to trade and consumers to return.

“Since the onset of this crisis, our members have been clear that the scale of the economic crisis will require an unprecedented fiscal response from Government. We cannot ignore the fact that job creators, many of whom are SMEs, are the backbone of the economy.

“If these businesses fail and if jobs are permanently lost, then our recovery will take much longer, and be much more costly.

“Regarding the wider needs of the economy, Government action to sustain investment through this shock will be hugely important. In line with the European Commission’s Country-Specific Recommendations for Ireland, public spending and public investment should be non-negotiable.

“We cannot afford another lost decade and so, public investment must be at the centre of the next Programme for Government.”

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"Waterford is a very attractive location for Foreign Direct Investment as it is a dynamic city which is very much open for business – the city has a proven track record of attracting investment from start-ups and expanding business, who are hugely supported by Waterford Chamber. The city, county and region offers a young, well educated workforce and is easily accessible for international visitors. Waterford’s quality of life for employees is exceptional as it blends elements of rich cultural heritage with a new and vibrant lifestyle – with new additions such as the Greenway further showcasing the county to not only locals, but visitors from all over Ireland and overseas. The Chamber has been a vital link in welcoming our companies into the local Business Community – helping them not only network, but also gain a sense of community and belonging."

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