The Green Party has proposed the reuse of public disused buildings in towns and cities across the state to be repurposed as innovation and incubation hubs at nominal rent for start-up enterprises.
The proposal was made by Green Party TD for Carlow Kilkenny and Community Development Spokesperson, Malcolm Noonan. Speaking in the Dáil last week on matters related to business and enterprise, Deputy Noonan cited the example of Cartoon Saloon in his own hometown of Kilkenny who took a space in an old brewery malthouse over a decade ago and now employ 500 people in the town centre.
‘Our regional towns in particular are going to need every bit of help they can get to recover from the pandemic. Retail vacancy rates in some towns of up to 20% pre-covid is quite alarming. Turning over disused public spaces, owned by state or local authorities could play a part in helping new start ups to occupy town centre premises at low rent’ said Deputy Noonan.
He said such spaces could be kitted out with shared facilities such as ‘fab-labs, 3D printers and a pooling of resources for different enterprises. His colleague Deputy Steven Matthews; Enterprise Spokesperson agreed and said that Local Authorities should play a key role in enabling such activity.
‘Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) could be tasked with setting up such projects across the country, backed by state and local authority support. We have to innovate to get investment back into our towns and we are of the view that there will be no shortage of innovative new start ups ready to ride the wave of the European Green Deal and invest once again in our historic town centres’ he said.
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