Sean Canney T.D., Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development, today (22nd June) announced an investment of €300,000 for enterprise hubs along the Atlantic Economic Corridor to help them implement measures to reopen in compliance with public health guidelines as the economy recovers from the impact of COVID-19.

The investment will be made by the Department of Rural and Community Development through the Western Development Commission as part of the Atlantic Economic Corridor Enterprise Hub Network project. Funding of up to €5,000 will be provided in grant aid to successful applicants.

Making the announcement, Minister Canney said:

“As we reopen our economy and adjust to the new challenges brought about by COVID-19, it is important that we help people to return to work in a safe environment. With over 100 hubs along the Atlantic Economic Corridor region from Kerry to Donegal, the AEC Enterprise Hub Network can play an important role in the economic recovery of the region by supporting remote working, community enterprises and the development of ‘second sites’ in the region for businesses.

However, many hubs face significant challenges in reopening under the current conditions. The investment I am announcing today will support hubs to manage this process by helping them to adapt their premises to comply with public health and social distancing guidelines.

In addition, the provision of other supports by the Western Development Commission, such as the development of a shared on-line booking system for workers wishing to use the hubs, will further help the hubs to safely manage the services they provide as the country moves through the Roadmap for Reopening Society and the Economy.”

CEO of The Western Development Commission, Tomás Ó Síocháin, said:

“This support will allow the hubs to reopen and provide facilities for workers to work remotely in fully equipped office settings. WDC research, carried out in conjunction with NUIG, has identified immediate challenges to working from home, and the AEC enterprise hubs can help address those challenges. The hubs can play a critical role in rural and regional areas, allowing skilled workers to work close to where they live, driving sustainable economic activity and building communities.”

Hub managers along the AEC region will be invited to join a webinar on Tuesday 30th June – ‘A Practical Guide to Reopening your hub.’ Attendees will learn how to prepare to re-open their hubs and plan to operate safely internally with staff and hub users. The webinar will also look at potential funding supports available, including through the Atlantic Economic Corridor Hub Outreach scheme, Enterprise Ireland supports and others.