Tuesday, 20th February 2018
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Dungarvan and West Waterford Chamber celebrate 10 years with CEO Jenny at the helm

Dungarvan and West Waterford Chamber celebrate 10 years with CEO Jenny at the helm CEO of Dungarvan and West Waterford Chamber Jenny Beresford took up her position in a very damp and very temporary office in 2007. That didn't hold her back however as she saw nothing but potential. In the ten years at the helm of Dungarvan Chamber Jenny set out a strategic vision to build and grow the business community in one of Ireland's most popular traditional market towns.

In 2007, the position of CEO at Dungarvan Chamber was a brand new initiative, Jenny took up the role with a vision for growth not only for the Chamber as an entity but also the town of Dungarvan as a business and tourism destination.

In 2008 Dungarvan and West Waterford Chamber hosted their very first Business Afterhours, something which proved to be an enormously successful initiative, assisting in not only building a solid member base but providing a new and unique networking and business growth opportunity to members, today some ten years later over 50 Business Afterhours events have been successfully hosted with countless business deals and contracts struck within those hours. Dungarvan Chamber published the first 'Building and Home Guide', the result was a complete booklet, thus enabling people access services and trades all available locally.

Two years into her tenure with Dungarvan Chamber, 2009 saw a big move for Jenny with the establishment of a new permanent office courtesy of Clancy Construction at the Plaza Shopping Centre. The office was officially opened by then Tanaiste Mary Coughlan.

Celebrations moved on apace in 2010 with the hosting of the first Dungarvan Chamber Business Awards which was sponsored by FBD and to this day annually celebrates the plethora of businesses and business people driving employment across the county. The Chamber also hosted first Chamber BBQ a wonderful informal occasion for the business community to gather, network and brainstorm. And a lengthy period of lobbying also came to fruition as the free parking from 4 pm daily was announced for Dungarvan town centre.

In 2011, the Chamber assisted with the organisation and management of the Waterford Adventure Race and topped off the year with a celebratory Chamber Ball and Awards evening with the then Minister for Sports and Tourism Leo Varadkar as guest speaker at the event.

The Dungarvan Chamber Business Awards took a huge step in 2012, having outgrown being part of the Chamber Ball, the awards popularity and success meant that the event merited its own stand-alone evening of celebration. The very first stand-alone event took place this year at the historical Lismore Castle and with RTE's Dermot Bannon as guest speaker. 2012 was also a year where Dungarvan Chamber placed a huge focus on the use of Irish language in business, with the An Rinn Gaeltacht on our doorstep offering Dungarvan a unique proposition. The Chamber also placed a focus on Rates and hosted a presentation on the accurate theme of revaluation. Taking a step into the world of digital marketing and communications the Chamber also launched their very own bespoke app.

In 2013 Dungarvan & West Waterford Chamber directly focused on lobbying government for rates equalization. The Chamber Executive fought hard to have Dungarvan Town rate base as the measure, considering it was the lowest of the rates in the county and would, therefore, benefit all businesses in the county. In advance of the Waterford Council merger, they lobbied for equity and voice and balance of priorities from council officials. The first Dungarvan Aglow was also launched with an initial investment of close to €80,000In 2014, Dungarvan & West Waterford Chamber placed a firm focus on tourism, taking over the management of the Dungarvan Tourist Office and work in collaboration with Waterford City & County Council, CMT Community Employment Scheme and Failte Ireland to ensure a seamless service for visitors to the county. The Tourist Office was moved to the high spec office on Dungarvan's Main Street and footfall has increased annually with over 10,000 visitors welcomed into the office last year alone.

The Chamber team also grew by two new staff members in 2014 enabling Dungarvan and West Waterford Chamber the ability to focus on more projects and continue to build business in the town and county.

2015 saw Dungarvan & West Waterford Chamber host a 'Free Money for you Business' seminar, which focused on accessing grant aid and funding for local businesses and community organisations, all arranged by Dungarvan Chamber, it was a huge hit with members and non-members with people travelling from Limerick to Wexford to attend.

Jenny and her team also organized a research visit to Westport to access the impact of the opening of the Great Western Greenway on Westport town and gain some insights on the opportunity and the preparation that Dungarvan could commence with the opening of the Waterford Greenway, in some two years time.

Dungarvan was also announced as Ireland's first Dementia Friendly Town something that the Chamber had been working closely with Home Instead Senior Care on. A large number of retail and service businesses in Dungarvan trained up to be aware and empathetic to dementia sufferers and their families.

Looking to the future Jenny has her sights firmly set on driving Dungarvan further as a tourism destination and officially making Dungarvan the 'Home of the Greenway'. She says, "There has been a driving force in the county for many years, and now that the product has been unveiled it really is time to reap the rewards of that hard work for the county."

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