A public meeting to identify job creation opportunities is being held in Granagh Community Centre, Thursday 18th April at 7.15pm. This meeting is part of the nationwide consultation being undertaken by The Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA) to engage with communities and businesses in rural areas.

The Chairman of the Commission, well known GAA star Pat Spillane, is keen to engage with the public and will be listening to their experiences and suggestions regarding economic development in their community.

“The feedback and contributions that we receive from the public are vital to the work of the commission in the preparation of its report. We need solid, practical and workable recommendations to put into the report. We also are asking anyone with an interest in economic rural development to make a submission though our website”

The meeting will hear from Prof. Cathal O’Donoghue, Head of Teagasc’s Rural Economy Development Programme and also head of the Executive of the Commission. Prof. O’Donoghue will present the latest research on the impact of the economic downturn in Co. Limerick. This study shows that the number of people classified as unemployed has grown from 4,470 to 11,143 (+149%) between 2006 and 2011. These changes are largely driven by the collapse of the construction sector and related retail enterprises.

Prof. O’Donoghue stated that “Whilst the impacts of the downturn on rural areas have been severe, there is hope. The sustained growth over the past few years in the export sector, particularly food products, is bringing benefits to Co. Limerick. It is vital that all steps are taken to ensure the rural economy benefits to the greatest extent possible from the recovery. This can be achieved by developing greater linkages between local businesses to enable them to be more competitive and reach new markets.”

The meeting will focus on discussing two key issues; identifying local opportunities for job creation and economic growth and establishing what needs to happen to ensure that these opportunities are realised.

The Commission will produce a report in September 2013 that will advise the Government on the practical steps needed to ensure rural Ireland contributes to and benefits from economic development to the period 2025.

Established by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government in October 2012, the work of CEDRA is being supported by Teagasc, Western Development Commission and the Department of Agriculture. Membership of the Commission is drawn from expertise in rural development across a wide range of sectors including community, local authority, business and third level education.