New 189-point Action Plan to support economic recovery in Kerry
Kerry County Council has published an Economic Recovery Plan to help support and guide the county through the challenges of the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and to help stimulate and support economic recovery and activity in the county.
The plan is a multi-stakeholder response to the impact that COVID-19 has had on the Kerry economy, and reflects the significant capital and programme investment that is committed from national and local government towards the delivery of strategic capital infrastructural projects to support the economic recovery in the county.
The Economic Recovery Plan addresses the need to build resilience and diversification into Kerry’s economy to respond to the additional challenges and opportunities faced by businesses in the county, including in the post-Brexit and post-COVID-19 environment, the transition to climate neutrality, the transition to a digital economy and the opportunities presented by remote or blended working.
It is a comprehensive plan with some 189 actions. Among its key objectives/targets are:
- To rollout a significant programme to support the reopening of business in the county from targeted marking campaigns promoting Kerry as a leading destination for business, tourism, investment, and study to investments in outdoor dining and performance spaces throughout the county.
- To deliver energy efficiency retrofitting upgrades to local authority housing stock, and public lighting, as well as the continued ‘greening’ of public buildings.
- To provide resilience to the impacts of climate change, for example, through the development and implementation of a Climate Action Plan. To support local enterprises in the areas of research, technology and green innovations that work towards a carbon-neutral circular economy.
- To work in partnership with key stakeholders to retain, promote, and drive Kerry’s position as a premier international tourism destination, with a focus on developing green and sustainable tourism.
- To deliver green tourism infrastructure in the county, including greenways, walkways and the implementation of new and existing Visitor Destination Development Plans.
- To support businesses on their digital journey and deliver research, upskilling and reskilling to match new opportunities in this space.
- To support the continued rollout of the National Broadband Plan and to facilitate remote working infrastructure throughout the county.
- To reimagine and reinvest in town and village centres to meet the challenge of physical decline and dereliction and to invest in enabling infrastructure that will provide certainty for future sustainable growth.
- To deliver the National Housing Programme and associated targets in Kerry and the emerging opportunities under ‘Housing for All.’
- To work locally and regionally with state agencies, including IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, and the third level institutions to coordinate economic development and promotion of the county and region to potential investors, including the promotion of Kerry for remote/blended working and second site opportunities.
- To deliver a suite of funding supports through feasibility, business priming and business expansion grants and support access to additional credit schemes such as Microfinance Ireland.
- To provide undergraduate programmes to meet skills needs of the Region and create an educated and work-ready workforce through the Munster Technological University and Kerry Education and Training Board. To deliver excellence in learning and development for the Agritech Sector through the Agritech Centre of Excellence (ACE).
- To enhance regional accessibility and improve connectivity within the county in terms of the road, rail and public transport network, together with cycleway and pedestrian facilities.
The Plan focuses on a number of key themes including Digital Transformation, the Transition to a Low Carbon Economy, building on Kerry’s natural resources and the necessary training and education to support these structural changes. The Plan also concentrates on the challenges of regenerating towns and villages, the overall marketing of the county in relation to attracting investment, talent and visitors and the development of tourism, culture, heritage and amenities to support the quality of life in the county both for its resident and visiting populations.
There will be a continued support of existing business in the efficient delivery of National Schemes and the prioritisation of local supports in training, mentoring, supporting the transition to online trading and lean programmes and assisting the National Pathways to Work Programme 2021-2025.
Launching the report, the Cathaoirleach of Kerry County Council, Jimmy Moloney said:
‘The pandemic has been an unprecedented economic challenge for the county. The key sectors in Kerry are tourism, wholesale, retail, agriculture, manufacturing, and local services which towns, smaller settlements and their hinterlands rely on to generate economic activity – all of which have been impacted by the pandemic. As we approach a fuller reopening the economy, it is important that we have this recovery plan in place that clearly sets out a roadmap for economic investment and sustainability in the years ahead.
The Chief Executive of Kerry County Council, Moira Murrell said:
‘At the beginning of the pandemic, the public and private sectors in Kerry, building on existing collaborations, recognised the need for a coordinated response to support the economic recovery of the county. Chaired by Kerry County Council, the Kerry Economic Stakeholder Forum was convened in April 2020 to support the economic recovery of the county. This interagency forum, in consultation with key stakeholders, has developed this Economic Recovery Plan for the county.
‘It is a short-medium term economic recovery plan which includes immediate COVID-19 targeted response measures and medium to longer term economic recovery measures, intended to support, stimulate and strengthen our economy and aligned with national and regional policy. The actions and investment proposed under the ten pillars included in the plan are designed to stimulate vibrancy in our towns and villages, support the sustainable growth of our key economic sectors and the future-proofing of our economy and environment.’
Ms Murrell thanked the many stakeholders and those who contributed to the Plan, particularly the members of the Kerry Economic Stakeholder Forum as well as the Munster Technological University, Kerry Education and Training Board, Kerry SciTech, Kerry Tourism Industry Federation and the Kerry Chamber Network.