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Monday, 16 January 2012 10:06

Taoiseach Enda Kenny DiasporaNew Network to Create International Business Opportunities for West of Ireland Businesses

The Western Development Commission (WDC) and six local authorities in the western region have established a new business network to facilitate growth for businesses in the region. RE:CONNECT Western Regional Business Network will help foster contacts between businesses in the west of Ireland and individuals and businesses abroad. The network was launched at the Irish embassy in London by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, T.D., on Thursday, January 12th. 

In his address the Taoiseach said the network was a pioneer and leader in what it sets out to do. He commended the WDC and the six local authorities on the initiative and said that such collaboration at a regional level was the way to move forward. The Taoiseach told the 220 attendees at the launch, which was hosted by the Irish ambassador to the UK Bobby McDonagh, that there is a bright future for Ireland and he restated the government objective of making Ireland the best small country in the world in which to do business by 2016.

Helen Rochford-Brennan, Chair of the WDC said that the main objective of RE:CONNECT Western Regional Business Network is to promote and develop links between businesses in the western region and businesses in the UK that are owned or managed by people from the region. “There are significant opportunities for investment and growing business and by creating this new network we hope to exploit those opportunities,” she said.

Ian Brannigan, Acting Chief Executive of the WDC said: “We foresee a wide variety of new contacts and links as a result of the network. For example, a west of Ireland business with ambitious export plans makes contact with a London business owner originally from the region. The London business could themselves become a customer, make an introduction to another customer or simply share their knowledge and experience of the UK market. This type of contact could be invaluable to the small business owner.”

Mr Brannigan said that regardless of their location, RE:CONNECT would offer businesses in the west the opportunity to position themselves for growth by taking advantage of commercial opportunities through new relationships and social networks.

RE:CONNECT Western Regional Business Network will facilitate businesses at the larger end of the scale as well as the many small and medium sized enterprises, especially those in the creative, ICT, financial services, manufacturing and food sectors, who are competing in the global market. Supported by six local authorities in the region (Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon and Galway) the network will be hosted by the WDC’s LookWest.ie platform, which promotes the western region as an attractive location for enterprise and investment. Since its establishment, the award winning LookWest.ie has attracted over 1 million visits and is the ideal channel to facilitate communication between Ireland’s diaspora and the region.

The origins of RE:CONNECT stem from collaboration between the Sligo Business Network in London and the WDC over the past two years. The initiative is also in line with recommendations of the Second Global Irish Economic Forum Report to strengthen connections with the Irish Diaspora.

“We decided to start the network in London for a number of reasons, namely; the UK is Ireland’s closest and largest trading partner, there are existing county structures and contacts in London with whom we have built up strong relationships, excellent air access directly into the region and numerous examples of influential and successful people and businesses who have a link with the west of Ireland. We also plan to roll out the concept in other major cities worldwide in the future,” Joanne Grehan of the WDC said.

A new section of the LookWest.ie website will act as the virtual hub of RE:CONNECT (www.lookwest.ie/reconnect). A number of events where people can meet and do business face to face will also be hosted throughout the year with an event in the west in 2013 to coincide with “The Gathering” project.

“Ensuring that key influencers can engage in positive dialogue and commercial activity will contribute to delivering renewed economic growth in the West of Ireland, and the WDC is confident that RE:CONNECT Western Regional Business Network can play an important role in that. We strongly encourage businesses in the west to get involved by joining the network at www.lookwest.ie/reconnect or at http://linkd.in/LookWestREConnect,” Ms Grehan concluded.

Joanne Grehan, RE:CONNECT Network Manager can be contacted at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or 094 986 1441 for further information.