Monday, 20th August 2018
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Michael Garland bizBoost PR

No more 'Tiers'!

Last week we learned that Waterford and the South East region, is continuing to languish in the third tier of Ireland's economic recovery. This SE corner is struggling so badly, that there are no signs, in the very near future, of promotional opportunities to elevate us into the higher league.

With the continued lack of Government investment and support, you have to ask "Will we ever get the help that other towns, cities and regions receive?"

When the 2018 WIT South East Economic Monitor was made available, were we really, in all honesty, surprised by the findings? Every man and his dog knows, that there's very little disposable income across the region.

Despite the headline grabbing 2040 commitments and our North Quay development, there's really not much else to get excited about.

Successive years of neglect have come home to roost. It wouldn't be so bad if we were actually playing catch up. Alas, we are so far adrift from a safe harbour, it beggars belief.

It will take much more than one or two PR opportunities, from our media hungry Taoiseach, to put Waterford back on track.

Yes, we're seeing local success stories such as the Greenway and a repositioning of Waterford's assets, making them more tourism friendly. This alone will not turn around our fortunes.

Our share of international tourists is unproportionately small. There is talk that we need to find another Chuck Feeney personality, with of course Waterford sympathies.

No we don't! We need an Irish Government that distributes this country's wealth fairly and harmoniously. Of course to do this, you need political representation with big cahones - something we have been lacking for some time now.

All around the Deise border, rival TDs have been circling their wagons and raiding our banks, quite literally at will. We can't even seem to co-ordinate the most basic of counter charges. It appears that we are bringing spreadsheets to the gunfight!

You will recall a few years ago, our technological university bid was our gold medal race. We were trying to get our third level institution across the line, allowing us in the SE, to compete with some of the larger educational bodies. Now we are accepting, that our bid will be second or maybe even third, to be awarded the prize.

Surprise, surprise Dublin got there before us. They worked quietly away in the background and delivered the championship trophy. The complete lack of university status, has had a massively detrimental impact, on Waterford and the wider region.

If possible, families will always aspire to send their kids to university and not an IoT. Universities have seen a 40% growth, compared to 3% in IoTs, over the last 18 years!

The thousands of under 25s leaving the region, has skewed our employment figures. The reality is, that we are still lagging too far behind other areas.

Just where are the promised 25,000 jobs, as pledged in the "Action Plan for Jobs", going to come from by 2020?

It's a fact, that Waterford and the wider SE, is now becoming a low-income-low-wage economy. As people have very reduced disposable incomes, to bolster our very local economy, this is evident across the whole City and County. The VAT returns back this up and show our regions' low consumer spending trend.

That age old conundrum of IDA support, also shows signs of slowing, according to this report. There is a continued lack of visits and the associated conversion rates are jaw-droppingly low.

The IDA tells us that they cannot promote one region over another, as Ireland Inc is their priority. They will also tell us, that they cannot alone be responsible for our economic future. To this extent they are correct.

All too often, I see our readiness to look outwards and blame others. We all have a responsibility to do our bit. That starts with pride in our City and County. This is sadly lacking!

You only have to look at the amount of general litter left around our County. This shows how little pride is felt for the place they choose to live and work in and sadly despoil.

"To see ourselves as others see us!"

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