A Traded Services Feasibility Study has recently been completed which has provided a review of existing traded services provision and identified future actions to promote the development of this sector in both Cookstown/Mid Ulster and Cavan areas. This project which was supported by the Special EU Programmes Body, acting as the Managing Authority for the European Union’s INTERREG IVA Programme, was a joint project, led by Cookstown District Council and our partners Cavan County Enterprise Board and Cavan County Council.
Cookstown District Council and Cavan County Council are two of ten Local Authorities which are members of ICBAN (the Irish Central Border Area Network). ICBAN, on behalf of its ten member Councils, submitted a Multi-Annual Plan and associated applications to SEUPB for consideration under the European Union INTERREG IVA Programme and the ‘Traded Services Feasibility Study’ received approval under the Enterprise Theme. A Project Steering Committee was then established to oversee the project, and included representatives from the project partners – ICBAN, Cookstown District Council, Cavan County Council and Cavan County Enterprise Board as well as other key stakeholders comprising Invest NI, DETI, SEUPB, IDA and Enterprise Ireland.
In response to current economic conditions, the Partners considered it essential to focus on opportunities within the traded services sector as this sector has been identified as offering significant growth over the next 5 years. As a result, this Study was then commissioned to investigate what actions should be undertaken in each area to progress the development of this key sector.
Following public advertisement, Council commissioned Envision Management Consultants (in partnership with KPMG and Oxford Economics) to carry out the Study in December 2010 focussing on the following areas:
In addition to addressing these issues, the Study also provided a number of key actions and recommendations; many of which can be undertaken on a collaborative basis. These included for example, reviewing education and skills in each area with a proposal to develop a ‘regional skills strategy’, providing options for the development of the traded services sector, and the development of a Services Proposition for presentation to agencies and companies to promote the region as a potential location for traded services.
To build on the momentum created to date, the Report also recommended that both areas should continue with their on-going positive engagement with government and business development and support agencies.
Other actions suggested to develop the traded services sector included learning from other regions that are considered to have pursued best practice, and the implementation of a more targeted and pro-active direct sales activity, focussed on traded services companies that are considering satellite or overflow operations.
Cookstown District Council Chairman, Cllr Sean Clarke welcomed the completion of the Study, and stated,
“This is the first in-depth analysis of the traded services sector to take place in the Cookstown/Mid-Ulster and Cavan Districts; it means that both local authorities now have a more informed picture of the current situation, which will guide the direction and nature of any future initiatives to progress the development of the traded services sector in our respective regions. Indeed the Study concludes with a 10-point Action Plan which recommends very practical steps which could be taken forward in the short, medium and longer term. I commend the consultants for their work in providing us with a most thorough and comprehensive Study”.
Shane Campbell, ICBAN’s Chief Executive, commenting on the project, explained that, “The Traded Services Feasibility Study is the first project to complete under ICBAN’s Multi Annual Plan for the region. It has demonstrated the type of cross-border cooperation between Cookstown and Cavan necessary for the INTERREG IVA Programme to have a meaningful economic impact. There is no doubt that this project has cemented foundations for future joined up working between the two local authorities for the benefit of all people living and working across the border region”.
This project is supported by the Special EU Programmes Body, acting as the Managing Authority for the European Union’s INTERREG IVA Programme.