By Zara Hill
The Annual Meeting of Ballinasloe Area Community Development reviewed a number of current community projects including Life Magazine, the Town Benchmarking Project, BEST and the launch of Ballinasloe.ie. The AGM took place and welcomed special guest, Minister Ann Phelan. A number of local Council and Oireachtas members were also in attendance on the night, as well as many business and community activists. Guests from the Burren Lowlands Development Company, Loughrea Chamber of Commerce and Galway Rural Development also attended.
BACD Manager, Lyn Donnelly presented the occupancy statistics of the Enterprise Centre. Figures showed that the Centre is currently 98% occupied, facilitating 17 Enterprises and employing 196 people. According to Lyn; ‘’the only available space is for hot-desking (shared office space, available to rent on an hourly, daily or weekly basis).’’ With an annual turnover of €245,446 and a total expenditure of €229,693, the BACD offers services for entrepreneurship including; advice and guidance for entrepreneurs, affordable rental rates through hot desks, meeting and training rooms, access to enterprise support agencies and networking events.
Secondly reviewed at the meeting was the successful completion of four volumes of Life Magazine. Volume 5 was launched in February this year and to date a total of 111 subscribers – made up of different businesses and local groups have supported the project. Volume one of Life magazine saw the distribution of 27,000 hard copies and 1,500 copies of the magazine online. This has since expanded and Volume 4 saw the distribution of 37, 500 hard copies and a much increased 21, 500 online copies of the community magazine.
On reviewing the successful completion of the Town Benchmarking project – a project undertaken to understand, measure, evaluate and improve the economic viability of the town centre - Lyn mentioned the Project funding partners; BEC, Galway County Council, Ballinasloe Credit Union and Ballinasloe Chamber of Commerce and thanked them for their support. Works carried out by the Town Benchmarking Project to date have been the People & Places Partnership – with an ethos of ‘’Putting the life back into our towns and cities’’ – and the establishment of a 13 member Town Team. The Town Team have been working to ‘’revitalize the town and its hinterland, enabling it to achieve its true potential, by creating awareness of all the positive assets we currently have in the townland and identifying new initiatives that will enhance and expand on what we already have.’’
The team also hopes to continue to encourage positive suggestions and interaction from all local groups and prioritise attainable objectives that will rejuvenate the town. Other upcoming projects for the town team were announced as; a Boating Regatta, Christmas Festival and Beara-Breffini and Hymany Way upgrade projects. Minister Phelan congratulated and commended all involved in the different projects and groups in the area and enthused that Ballinasloe should be showcased throughout the country, to highlight how rural towns can ensure their vibrancy and economic viability.
Galway County Council funded the upgrading of the Hot Desk Facility at the Enterprise Centre, as well as the Benchmarking Project. The Ballinasloe Chamber of Commerce were thanked for their support with the Benchmarking Project, while it was recognised that the Credit Union supported the BEST competition, the benchmarking project and the training room upgrade. Enterprise Ireland was also mentioned for the provision of a BDM Grant. Future plans for BACD include sustaining occupancy levels, raising the profile of the centre, increasing membership and engagement within the community and finally to continue business development work. For further details about development companies plans contact Lyn Donnelly in Ballinasloe Enterprise Centre 090 9646516
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