The chief executive of Sligo County Council says the county is now seeing investment on a scale and size not seen in decades.
In what was probably the most optimistic report ever presented to Sligo Councillors yesterday, Ciaran Hayes said more than 1,200 jobs have been announced for Sligo in the past 12 months as well as 500 jobs in Abbott Diabetes in Donegal.
Mr Hayes said the jobs are across a range of areas and are also hi-tech.
It’s envisaged there will be 300 more jobs in construction in the county by the end of 2019 with more than €220m investment in projects in tourism, water services, roads, a new bridge, housing and public spaces in Sligo.
Enterprise Ireland employment grew by 9% in the north west but although this was the highest in the country, Mr Hayes pointed out the area was coming off a very small base, the lowest in the country.
In fact, he said Sligo had now come out tops in terms of Euro per capita funding.
Projects in the county that are to benefit from Urban and Rural Regeneration Development funds include the new €24m eastern Garavogue bridge and approach roads in Sligo town; the €3m enhancement of O’COnnell Street in the town, the €3m development of the Stephen Street car park area as a cultural plaza, the €2m Strandhill Surf Centre of Excellence, the €670,000 Yeats Trail and €600,000 enhancement of public spaces in Sligo town.
Work on the €100m Collooney to Castlebaldwin N4 is also to get underway, as well as on the €18m on Western Distributor road in Sligo.
€7m is to be spent on the N4/N15 improvement scheme in Sligo town, from Hughes Bridge to the Rosses Point junction.
There’s funding of almost €2m for the Strandhill Enterprise and Technology Centre which, Mr Hayes said, will develop the gaming industry and enhance Sligos reputation as a ‘smart city’ destination.
€21m is to be invested in regeneration in the eastern section of Sligo town.
28 housing units will be provided in a development on Knappagh Road, 14 units in a scheme on the Rosses Point Road, both in Sligo town; 15 units in Collooney and 8 units in Ballymote.
There will also be €14m in sewerage plants in Grange, Tubbercurry, Strandhill and Ballinafad.
More than €6.2m is to be invested in Coolaney Bike Centre.
Mr Hayes says the scale of the investment, while very welcome, also presents its own challenges, including staff recruitment and availability of housing.
Speaking to Ocean FM News, he says in his many years working in local government, he has never before been able to deliver a report like he did so yesterday to Sligo Councillors.
However, despite all the good news, Independent Councillor Margarety Gormley insisted there remains a huge imbalance, particularly when it came to South Sligo.
She pointed out that Tubbercurry had lost jobs in government offices, Aurivo, at the Basta plant and in Achonry.
And she said progress on improving the N17 was no further on since she came on the council 18 years ago.
But Mr Hayes insisted they were not forgetting South Sligo at all.
‘We are certainly not ignoring the rural areas,’ he said.