Minister Heather Humphreys with Deputy Martin Heydon and Cllr Ivan Keatley
Minister for Business Heather Humphreys TD alongside senior officials from IDA and Enterprise Ireland met last Thursday with local public representatives, officials and business representatives, around attracting more jobs to Athy.
The Minister received a presentation on the current socio economic and business environment in the town as well as the investment in current regeneration programmes.
Local politicians including Kildare South TD's and Athy area councillors addressed their concerns over the challenges of attracting new job opportunities to the town in the wake of the recent announcement of the closure of the Coca-Cola plant in Athy by 2019 .
The development of space for start-up enterprises and expanding the current enterprise centre in Athy, was something that could receive grant aid if a proposal is forthcoming.
"Minister Humphreys responded by outlining the opportunities that exist through the Regional Enterprise Development Fund which is worth €30m this year and which Kildare secured €2m from in last year's round of funding for the Merits project in Naas. The Minister also outlined the benefits of Kildare undertaking a Skills audit of people in Athy. We know that there are 3,000 Athy people in work and that the majority of them work outside of the town but we lack the detail of the skill set of those people which is significant information for prospective businesses who are considering investing in Athy" said Kildare South TD Martin Heydon.
"The IDA also highlighted the need for a developed service site with planning permission for a factory. An example was given of collaboration between IDA and Meath County Council on a site in Navan that is now under construction with a tenant business ready to move in."
It was also agreed the possibility of Kildare County Council partnering with Carlow IT on developing an apprenticeship centre in the old Model School was also to be explored as grants are available through the Institutes of Technology to develop apprenticeship and traineeship programmes.