US Ambassador, Daniel Rooney, is welcomed to Cavan Town Hall where he engaged in a question and answer session with leaders of local organisations. From left: Ger Finn, Town Manager; Paddy O'Reilly, Mayor of Cavan; US Ambassador to Ireland, Daniel Rooney; Jack Keyes, County Manager; Mrs. Patri

Ambassador hears strong plea for inward investment

Securing US inward investment for Cavan was top of the agenda at an open forum hosted by the American Ambassador to Ireland, Daniel Rooney, in Cavan Town Hall last Thursday. The creation of new business opportunity figured extensively in the discourse between community representatives and Ambassador Rooney who expressed optimism that the US and Irish economies are now improving and that this would lead to the creation of new jobs. Cavan County Manager, Jack Keyes, was at the top table with Mr. Rooney along with Cavan Chamber president, Pacelli Lynch. According to Mr. Keyes there was a huge amount of work still to be done to create new business opportunities on both sides of the Border. He felt that the North/South bodies needed to accelerate that requirement and he was surprised when he became Cavan County Manager that there wasn't a higher linkage between Cavan businesses and their counterparts in the North. "We are still at a relatively early stage, we must grow our indigenous industry here in Co. Cavan as we need to get into the export market. Irish companies are the sixth biggest investors into the United States, we have to encourage our business people to think exports and to think the United States," said Mr. Keyes. Cavan Chamber president, Mr. Lynch, told the Ambassador that business in the Border region tended to swing like a pendulum - in that it either favoured one side or the other. It was estimated that the cost of doing business in Northern Ireland was 30% cheaper than in the Republic although the VAT differential between both jurisdictions had narrowed and the stronger sterling had helped to stem the flow of shoppers North. "In the case of cross border trade, it is either a famine or a feast - depending on which side of the Border your business is located. Hopefully now with the stronger sterling, businesses on this side of the Border will be in for a better period of trading," said Mr. Lynch. Investing in improved access to the region, north and south of the Border, would help make the region stronger, suggested Malachy Magee of Cootehill Chamber. He praised the role of Abbott Laboratories in the local economy, describing them as a fantastic employer. The people of Co. Cavan were good for the company as well, he added. "I feel we need to promote the joint distinctiveness of our region; we should not be competing with each other but instead compete with other European regions while acknowledging trading opportunities jointly on our door steps," said Mr. Magee. Ambassador Rooney agreed that partnership between North and South was critical to the development of the Border region. Observing that the people of Cavan had a proud history of seeing the bigger picture, Jack Keyes said that the tradition of the county boundary was sacrosanct and it was a great tradition that they should never lose. However, the world was now based on regions and sub regions and it was important too look at the common good and the bigger picture. "It is not right that small vocal minorities can hold up progress that would benefit the majority. There is a great lobby against wind farms and as a consequence we may not be able to develop that to its potential. It is always important to keep the bigger picture in mind," said the County Manager. The Ambassador referred to Ireland's potential as an energy producer and said that this country could sell its surplus wind and wave energy to other countries thus realising valuable funding. George Cartwright, County Cavan delegate to GAA Central Council also welcomed Ambassador Rooney to Cavan. Referring to Mr. Rooney's background in sport, Mr. Cartwright related the challenge facing football clubs in the county who were seeking to hold on to players being forced to emigrate because of the recession. "At the moment Cavan clubs are losing many of their young people. It would be sad if rural areas are to become depopulated once more. We need more Abbotts, say for instance in Cavan town. If we had that we could provide young people with employment and re-invigorate our rural communities. Maybe Ambassador you will encourage more multi-nationals to come our way," said Mr. Cartwright. Responding, the Ambassador said that companies such as Abbotts are playing an important role in Ireland and increasing their job numbers all the time. He kept encouraging US businesses to invest in Ireland and US Economic Envoy, Declan Kelly, was doing a good job. He urged the people of Cavan to get behind such efforts. The CEO of Cavan County Enterprise Board, Vincent Reynolds, told the Ambassador that they would like to see greater US inward investment in Cavan. He pointed out that the US companies that had come to Co. Cavan, had stayed here and prospered. This was a compliment to the companies concerned and was also a compliment to their employees, he said. "It has been a win win situation for everyone and with the new M3 open the county is very accessible. I hope you bring this message back to your colleagues in the United States," urged Mr. Reynolds. Community activist, Derek McCabe, recalled that while growing up in the 1980s he experienced recession and it was now occurring once more. He was speaking with a Northern Ireland man recently and was dismayed to hear him express apprehension about the troubles. "There are still very deep open wounds in the North and there are huge cultural differences between North and South that we have to bridge. Coming from an enterprise culture, I would be afraid that a lot of money will be spent and gone and will leave nothing behind in terms of jobs," said Mr. McCabe. The Ambassador expressed satisfaction with the level of the exchanges and said that he learned much from the forum. The economies of both the United States and Ireland are improving and jobs would follow from this economic upturn. It was important to think positively going forward, he advised.