Last year I wrote a policy document on supporting the Technology Sector with some fellow Fianna Fáil members who were also working in that area. One of my main proposals within that document has now been announced as part of the Fianna Fáil manifesto under Creating Jobs and Supporting Enterprise. Fianna Fáil have committed to the “Development of Regional Digital Hubs”.
My proposal tackles two issues which I’ve spent a lot of time on over the last few years; reinvigorating town centres and supporting the tech sector. It proposes to:
“Provide up to €1m of funding to each local authority to develop Regional Digital Hubs. This will support entrepreneurship throughout the country, bring businesses back to the main street and enable tomorrow’s entrepreneurs to grow businesses and jobs in their home county.”
Through my work in Digital Marketing and in Kildare County Council I know the benefit this proposal could bring. Not only does this have the potential to create 7,000 jobs and hundreds of new companies over the next ten years, it will also give county councils a role in their own local economies and revitalise empty shop units bringing this so called ‘recovery’ out of the capital and into the town centres that continue to struggle.
The Regional Digital Hub will act as an office space for digital focused firms. Having a hub allows for a concentration of necessary resources such as high speed broadband, meeting rooms, office facilities, mentoring workshops and so much more that is currently out of reach for many “kitchen table” entrepreneurs.
Running this programme through the network of local authorities has additional benefits; it allows for a close link to existing Local Enterprise Office expertise and resources and encourages councils to incentivise business start-ups in their area.
While this is something that will be managed by County Councils, it will require government to kick start the fund. Just like I worked to see the policy published ahead of the election, I’ll continue working to ensure it’s implemented after the election!
The Fianna Fáil manifesto is available at: fiannafail.ie/an-ireland-for-all/