Shannon Chamber CEO Reflects on ‘Period of Transition’

Shannon Chamber has described 2017 as a period of visible transition for the chamber itself and the wider region, as it reflected on the year gone past. Commenting specifically on the announcement that Jaguar Land Rover is to establish a new software engineering centre in Shannon, creating 150 jobs, Shannon Chamber CEO Helen Downes said: “News of this nature is most welcome for Shannon. We congratulate IDA for securing this investment and Shannon Commercial Properties for having the foresight to build advance property solutions to attract this level and type of investment to Shannon.”

With over 300 member companies and a reach to their 10,000+ employees, Shannon Chamber’s focus throughout 2017 was on providing members with the opportunity to forge beneficial linkages to enable them grow and gain value from their membership. The Chamber hosted 30 business events throughout the course of the year, as well as running Shannon Chamber Skillnet, one of 64 learning networks established nationally by Skillnets to support businesses in Ireland.

This delivered 39 training programmes to 540 executives in 181 member companies in 2017, bringing the cumulative total in its first two years of operation – September 2015 to December 2017 – to 91 training programmes delivered to 889 executives in 322 member companies, and training provided to 45 unemployed people.

In response to the small number of second-level students, particularly females, choosing science and engineering as a career option, Shannon Chamber linked up with Molex Shannon to create a new brand, STEM Shannon. This brand is intended to serve as a mechanism to formulate a structured Transition Year (TY) programme involving Shannon-based companies, which would be offered to students to give them a more meaningful understanding of what working in science and engineering involves. This programme is currently being formulated and is scheduled for roll-out in February.

Downes has also welcomed the announcement that Norwegian Air International is to double its frequency of its Shannon to Providence Green Airport, Rhode Island route, as well as adding an additional service on its Shannon to Stewart International Airport, Orange County route from March 2018.

Ms Downes commented: “Shannon Airport is a key infrastructural asset to the region with expansive economic impact. Our concern as a Chamber is that the skew that is developing between Dublin as a hub airport and regional airports such as Shannon and Cork, does not increase. This can only be managed by an aviation policy that gives Shannon more autonomy and enables it to grow. Overheating the east coast may be damaging for Ireland in the long term – it could drive business from Ireland. Ease of connectivity in and from the region will continue to be a priority benchmark for Shannon Chamber in the year ahead.”

Pictured above: Helen Downes, CEO, Shannon Chamber and Shannon Chamber President Julie Dickerson join Matthew Thomas, CEO, Shannon Group Plc and Ray O’Driscoll, Managing Director, Shannon Properties, Shannon Group plc and the Chamber team (back left): Cillian Griffey, Lijana Kizaite, Dympna O’Callaghan and Deirdre Murphy.