Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, is calling on Government to be ambitious and seize the opportunities being presented by the economic recovery to enhance the quality of life of the North West’s regional economy.
This is among the key messages of the Ibec Regional Insights Series event, taking place online this Thursday December 10.
Ibec senior regional policy executive, Helen Leahy said: “While Covid has dominated much of the agenda in 2020, it must not be forgotten that even before this current crisis, the North-West was facing systemic economic and societal issues such as Brexit, climate change and funding deficits in our higher education sector.
"The North-West region is the most vulnerable to the Brexit fall-out and this will also inevitability add to regional disparity and the areas, and indeed households, worst impacted by the Covid crisis.
“The economic recovery from Covid presents a golden opportunity to reimagine how we shape our society and economy to enhance overall quality of life.
"Innovative actions must be taken now to build economic resilience and stimulate the regional economies to mitigate the lasting impacts of these systemic issues."
She added that one of the most effective means of stimulating regional economies is by investing in infrastructure including housing, education, transport, broadband and health, making urban centres vibrant and attractive places in which to live.
Decades of under-investment in infrastructure, particularly in digital and transport capacities, and in higher education, will leave some regions significantly challenged in their ability to fully recover from the Covid crisis.
"While it is difficult to quantify what the eventual economic impact of the pandemic will be on the regions, it is undoubtedly being exacerbated by pre-existing challenges and regional disparities.
“Addressing infrastructure deficits and tapping into the economic potential that remains unused in our regions is essential to move forward. Doing so will significantly enhance the overall national economic recovery effort,” she said.
Ibec’s key priorities to underpin regional recovery and growth include:
- Speedy roll-out of the National Broadband Plan and the 5G mobile network
- Revitalising town centres to reboot and reimagine urban centres - Investing in skills, education and research and establishing a Technological University in the region
- Delivery of strategic road infrastructure upgrades including N4 Dublin-Sligo, the N14 Letterkenny-Lifford, the A5 and the Atlantic Corridor routes
- Overhaul the regime for planning consents and appeals to reduce capital project delivery timelines
- The right housing and tenure mix and targeted infrastructure spend to unlock sites capable of delivering large scale housing developments
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