50 new Enterprise Towns delivered this year, 5,500 organisations to participate by year end
Bank of Ireland today announced that it is investing in excess of €600,000 in its Enterprise Town initiative in 2015. The Bank delivered 14 Enterprise Towns throughout the country in the first half of this year and is now rolling out the concept to an additional 36 towns before the end of the year. Over 300 Bank of Ireland staff are involved in the initiative with 3,500 businesses, almost 2,000 sports and community groups and some 100 first and second level schools expected to participate this year. In total some 28,000 ‘connections’ will be facilitated by the programme based on the above participation and attendance at the Enterprise Town expo’s by local residents.
The programme brings local businesses and communities together to boost and promote economic activity in the town. A bespoke schedule of events is developed in each town including networking and showcasing opportunities to encourage residents to support local businesses. The overall aim of the initiative is to support local communities and help drive business for SMEs in their locality, whilst showcasing all that the town has to offer.
Bank of Ireland Enterprise Town programme activities include local business expos and participation by students from local schools, as well as sports and community expos. As well as playing an important role on each local committee and supporting each town with funding, Bank of Ireland is also providing business mentoring, event organisation, and bringing high profile speakers to the expo events including Gavin Duffy, Rachel Allen, Mickey Harte, Norah Casey and Katie Taylor.
Speaking at the announcement of the Bank of Ireland Enterprise Town programme, Liam McLoughlin, Chief Executive, Retail Ireland at Bank of Ireland said, “We’ve seen firsthand the enormous impact locally from this programme both initially in our pilot towns and the locations during the first half of the year. People have really come together and worked hard to make the Enterprise Town concept work for their town. We’ve witnessed hard work in local communities but also a deep sense of pride and ‘can do’ attitude. The activities have galvanised local communities in a very positive way and businesses are benefitting from the showcasing opportunity and the great networking which is taking place at the business expos. At the end of the programme, our goal is to leave local residents with a greater awareness of what is available locally from business and community organisations within their town and also with a lasting uplift for the benefit of the entire local community.”
The concept was originally piloted in Kells, Granard and Rathdowney prior to committing to rolling it out in 50 towns this year. The experience and feedback from the pilot towns was extremely positive for the local businesses and communities. Feedback confirmed that the weekend of activities brought the entire community together, local businesses found that the opportunity to showcase their product/service resulted in new and increased business and networking opportunities and overall, there was a sense of real progress throughout the initiative. In all of the pilot towns, entire communities came together to take part in the initiative and local business owners cited an increase in business and new custom as a direct result of the programme.
The Bank commissioned Red C to carry out independent research on the impact of the Enterprise Town initiative in May 2015. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with local businesses believing that it helped them advertise their services and introduced them to other businesses to develop solid working relationships, while local residents cited the excellent organisation of the event and the opportunity to discover local businesses which they didn’t know existed.