Limerick’s resurgence has been reaffirmed this week with a major report from EY-DKM Economic Advisory, confirming its status as one of the nation’s fastest growing economic hubs.
An Economic Data Profiling Report for Limerick commissioned by the Marketing and Communications Department of Limerick City and County Council, has quantified Limerick’s dramatic resurgence, with 12,000 jobs created over the period from 2013-2017 and €2 billion worth of projects submitted for planning permission since 2009 just among the key statistics.
According to the authors, the key opportunity for Limerick is to position itself as an attractive destination for foreign direct investment (FDI) in light of Brexit.
Conversely, the report also identified areas that need to be addressed if Limerick is to achieve its potential, such as hollowing out of the city centre and tackling social issues, particularly unemployment blackspots.
Among the key findings were that Limerick is the most affordable urban area in Ireland in which to both rent and buy residential property. Coupled with its disposable income being higher than the national average, this gives Limerick a distinct advantage.
The relative affordability of office space in Limerick compared to other cities was cited, as was the level of collaboration, joined-up-thinking and engagement in the city and wider community, plus the engagement between business, third-level and statutory bodies.
With regard to benchmarking, the report found that Limerick has a younger population age profile than the international benchmarks, which is viewed as a positive in that the city can have greater economic participation for longer into the future.
The report found that while Limerick will not be immune from the threats from BREXIT, the city’s competitive cost of living and doing business, relative to other locations in Ireland, leave it well-placed to capture certain types of “back-office” type activities, both from the UK and further afield.
While strong air and sea connectivity and third-level education sector should leave Limerick well-placed to attract more inward investment.
The relative affordability of office space in Limerick compared to other cities in Ireland was identified as another strength. Other strengths identified include the city’s positive social/lifestyle factors, a supportive business environment, its central location and strong connectivity through Shannon Airport, its historic infrastructure, tourist attractions and sport.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Areas that need to be addressed were equally identified, including revitalising the city centre core, though this is being tackled presently with the completion of the state-of-the-art Gardens International and Opera sites as well as the Docklands Strategy and the €9m upgrade of O’Connell Street.
It cites the number of areas of social deprivation, and unemployment blackspots, that exist relative to the other main cities in Ireland, though the proportion of the total population living in these areas is falling steadily.
While city broadband coverage is strong, rural broadband challenges exist and the city is seen as an underperformer in tourism terms, though its current hotel occupancy rate of 75% is much improved from the city’s occupancy rate of 61% recorded in 2014.