The West of Ireland’s appeal to one of its key markets, Chicago, for inward trade investment and tourism has been reinforced in a three-day visit by Shannon Group to the third most populous US city.
The delegation, which included Shannon Group Chairman Rose Hynes, CEO Neil Pakey and Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Murphy, had eight separate engagements with key stakeholders from the Chicago region, including with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
There was a particularly strong Galway reference to the delegation through the city’s twinning with Chicago – because also present on the trip was Chairman of the Galway Sisters City Committee and CEO of Galway Bay FM Keith Finnegan, who also broadcast his morning radio programme live three days running from Chicago.
“It really was a very positive, relationship building trip for Shannon but also for the West. All the business links through 25 years of Galway’s relationship with Chicago were used to make the trip the success it was,” said Keith.
“It was a relentless three day trip, with meetings from early morning to late at night with key stakeholders. Shannon Group did an excellent job selling the West coast of Ireland. There was a major emphasis, of course, on access, on getting people in and out of our region.
“Statistics tell us that a very large percentage of people who visit Ireland arrive in the east coast and stay there when there is a unique offering here in the West. Shannon is our local international airport and for the future of tourism and access into the west, it is crucial. coast and into Shannon is crucial.
“The level of engagement also impressed greatly. United Airlines, which operates services between Chicago and Shannon, attend two separate events but the Mayor and Deputy Mayor also endorsed the efforts of the Shannon Group to grow trade and tourism between our regions.
“They want traffic going into West of Ireland and they also want traffic coming out of it. These are endorsements at the highest level in Chicago,” he added.
The three-day visit, which concluded at the weekend, saw the Shannon Group promote trade and tourism investment into the West of Ireland, and in particular through the Group’s assets such as Shannon Airport, the Shannon Free Zone and Shannon Heritage.
Leadership conference is reimagined from the Edge
The organisers of the Leading At The Edge – the conference originally planned for the Galmont Hotel in Galway – have re-invented the programme and how it’s delivered for a virtual audience.
Kevin Kelly and Dave Hickey chose to completely re-engineer Leading At The Edge Online rather than cancel a conference that was over twelve months in the making.
“The switch to virtual is a key challenge in what I describe as an attention deficit world,” says Kevin. “We’re grateful that our main sponsors Grant Thornton and SSL have continued to support what will be a very different event.”
“As a speaker I relish the challenge of engaging a room – in virtual world, you need a different plan. With Leading At The Edge Online we are re-engineering even how virtual events are run, creating a new hybrid.”
With eight different speakers or sessions from several locations in Ireland, Europe and the US, running throughout the day on October 7 they recognise that retaining and engaging a virtual audience for the day will be a challenge.
“We know there is demand for the content, the speakers we have are top class and the technology for delivery is now well-proven,” says Dave Hickey. “But many people have been over-exposed to Zoom webinars and virtual meetings since March.”
So to counter this Zoom-fatigue, they have added fireside chats, Q and A’s and roundtable discussions all in an effort to vary content delivery and maximise engagement.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Ireland is at the heart of Europe’s political agenda
By Gerard Kiely, Head of the European Commission Representation in Ireland
When European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, delivered her first State of the Union address to the European Parliament on Wednesday, it is no exaggeration to say that Ireland was at the heart of this important speech, which outlines the EU’s vision and political priorities for the coming year.
Citing inspirational examples of political wisdom and humanity from the late John Hume and the heart-warming story of Suaad Alshleh, who arrived in Ireland as a refugee from Syria and received a prestigious scholarship to study medicine in Dublin, the President clearly appreciates Ireland’s positive contribution to advancing the values of the European Union.
President von der Leyen placed many of Ireland’s priorities at the top of Europe’s political agenda. She stressed the importance of reinforcing Europe’s social market economy to protect workers and businesses. President von der Leyen announced that the Commission will present a European anti-racism action plan and a strategy to strengthen LGBTQI rights. “LGBTQI-free zones are humanity free zones. And they have no place in our Union” she declared.
To help tackle the Covid pandemic in the coming year, the Commission will focus on building a European Health Union, with stronger agencies and enhanced capacity to respond to cross-border threats. The President called for a common plan for a ‘digital Europe’, with clearly defined goals for 2030, such as for connectivity, skills and digital public services.
On climate change, the European Commission proposes to increase the 2030 target for emissions reduction from 40% to 55%. This will put the EU on track for climate neutrality by 2050. “Meeting this new target will reduce our energy import dependency, create millions of extra jobs and more than halve air pollution,” Von der Leyen said.
The President further announced that 30% of the €750 billion #NextGenerationEU budget – a plan to ensure Europe’s recovery is sustainable and fair – will be raised through green bonds. And 37% of funding will be invested in European Green Deal objectives, including ‘lighthouse’ European projects – hydrogen, green building and one million electric charging points.
As part of the Green Deal, the ‘Farm to Fork Strategy’ proposes a transformation of the food system right across the supply chain. Given Ireland’s strong agricultural tradition, we need to work together to ensure that Irish farmers are financially supported when developing more sustainable practices.
The European Commission’s support for Ireland on Brexit remains unwavering: President von der Leyen stated once again that the EU would never backtrack on its support for the Good Friday agreement and peace on the island of Ireland.
Certainly, this brave political agenda for Europe and Ireland will meet many challenges, but as President von der Leyen put it: ‘Europe will be what we want it to be. So let us stop talking it down. And let’s get to work for it.’
Lotto seeks Galway’s Good Causes
The National Lottery has announced details of the National Lottery Good Causes Awards, with a total prize fund of €95,000 – and it is encouraging sports clubs, community organisations and projects in Galway to apply.
These awards honour the inspiring work and achievements of thousands of projects, clubs and individuals all over Ireland, who, with the help of National Lottery Good Causes funding, have had an extraordinary impact on their local communities.
The awards ceremony will take place on Saturday, February 20, in Dublin’s Mansion House, presented by Grainne Seoige who helped launch the Awards, now in their third year, this week.
The Awards will have seven categories which include sport, health and wellbeing, arts/culture, heritage, community, youth affairs and the Irish Language
Each of the seven category winners receiving €10,000 and the overall Good Cause of the Year winning an additional €25,000.
Applications for the Awards are now open and people can enter and check eligibility at www.lottery.ie/goodcausesawards.