Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I HAVE to admit that I am getting sick to death of reading, or hearing, of all the places in the country where new jobs are being announced. Why not Carlow?

There is nothing as bad as not having a job. Talk to anyone who has lost a job and they will all tell you that it has a devastating effect on their overall being.

Those who have never experienced such a loss will refer to the loss of an income – very important – and all the hardship that causes, but those who have experienced a job loss will talk about that, but also a whole lot of other stuff: self-esteem, loss of purpose, friendship, the list goes on.

There are some tremendous initiatives to try to help someone get back to work, but while all the schemes in the world are great, there is nothing so good as the announcement of a new business coming to town and bringing with it new jobs.

Talk of a new sugar factory coming this way is great, so long as it doesn’t remain just that – talk. When the original plant was in full swing, not alone did it create much-needed work at the plant itself, but there was a host of allied industries that also benefited. I can remember a worker from a local tyre centre telling me that when the factory closed, two employees lost their jobs. No lorries were needed to ferry the product, hence there was a drastic reduction in the need for new tyres. That is only one small example; can you just imagine the amount of products a factory of such a size needed to remain operational and the amount of people who were indirectly employed by it.

As I have said in the past, there have been too many major closures in Carlow over the past ten to 15 years with little or no replacements for them.

Everyone says that the economy is on the up-and-up again, but, to be truthful, I don’t see it, not in Carlow anyway. Yes, there is a pick-up in the greater Dublin region, but as yet I don’t see any great reduction in the numbers heading to Kennedy Avenue every week. I would love it if someone proved me wrong, but I don’t see that happening, not any time soon.

Back to job creation programmes. Surely there must be some industry out there that does not want to be located in Dublin but does need to be within striking distance, say, 80 kilometres away, as is the case with Carlow; that wants to have a third-level institution or two close at hand to help with research or recruitment of highly-educated personnel, just like Carlow; and where accommodation or development land doesn’t cost a fortune as it does in Dublin. As you can see, Carlow is ticking all the boxes, it even has excellent rail connectivity, but yet we still fail to capture any major inward investment.

Why is that? I have asked that question on many occasions in the past, but have never received an adequate answer. Perhaps it is time we started posing that question to our public representatives. After all, it is one of their remits to ensure that as much as possible can be done to create the correct environment for job creation. Minister Bruton spent the greater part of last week talking about how he and his department have done that and how they will achieve targets they set for themselves ahead of time.

I say it is about time someone had a word in his ear about Carlow.

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By Michael Godfrey
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