Introducing the successful applicants for the €8.8m funding on 22nd July last, Minister Humphreys referred to the new national strategy of 'Our Rural Future' which recognises hubs as ideal locations for people to work remotely, as well as acting as key economic assets for towns and villages.
“The increased shift to remote working as a result of the pandemic has provided a golden opportunity for a greater regional distribution of jobs to support a better work life balance for many people. This opportunity is reflected in ‘Our Rural Future’ and in policy initiatives across the whole of Government, such as Making Remote Work, the National Remote Working strategy.
The investment announced today will provide an increased number of families and individuals with the option to live and work in our rural communities. Remote working from hubs and Broadband Connection Points benefitting from this funding will also support local economies and assist in reducing our carbon emissions.”
Cllr Declan Harvey, Cathaoirleach, Offaly County Council has welcomed €287,282 in funding for Offaly as part of the Government’s Connected Hubs Scheme, for The Junction in Tullamore; and for the newly developed Broadband Connection Points (BCPs), established in a range of community venues across Offaly under the National Broadband Plan.
Cllr Harvey commented – “This is great news for Offaly and indicates the Government’s commitment to rural Ireland and making it a great place to work and do business in, to live in, and to visit”.
Anna Marie Delaney, Chief Executive of Offaly County Council said “This is an excellent result for both applications to be awarded funding in this amount. It will go a long way towards promoting Offaly as a remote working location. The funding is designed to enhance and add capacity to our remote working infrastructure, and Offaly aims to excel in this regard”.
The long established remote and co-working hub at The Junction, Offaly Co. Co. was allocated €75,000; which along with the Just Transition funding will go a long way to improving and developing the facilities in Tullamore. The Junction – Business Innovation Centre is designed and fitted out as a dedicated professional office space in Tullamore, Co. Offaly. It is a multi-functional space providing High Speed Broadband, Hot-desk facilities, dedicated desks, office suites, business training, mentoring and facilities for people to develop ideas and business. Information on ‘The Junction’ and other established co and remote working facilities in Offaly can be found at http://www.localenterprise.ie/offaly under the ‘Enterprise Development’ tab.
Ray Bell, Head of Information Systems, Digital and Broadband tells us “the aim of the hubs is to aid our recovery strategy as the economy opens fully and to support new digitally focused startups and businesses in their growth within the area. Installation of additional technology enabled systems such as a remote access system will improve the hub’s service current offerings.”
In addition, €212, 282 was allocated to Offaly County Council for upgrades for 10 further facilities (9 BCPs across the county and TheCreative65.ie hub in Edenderry). These BCPs are located in the following venues Killavilla Community Centre, The Irish Parachute Club, Kilclonfert Community Centre, Croghan Community Hall, Ballycommon Telework and Training Centre, Shannon Harbour, Clareen Community Hall, Coolderry Community Hall, and Moneygall Community Centre. The funding will provide upgrades to hub facilities and an innovative IoT building management system for the community venues along with energy awareness, technical equipment, desks and screens, extra WiFi access points and mobile phone booster signal repeaters.
The community based High Speed Broadband BCPs are an initiative of the Government of Ireland, in centres and locations across rural Ireland to give them access to high-speed broadband services. The aim is to unlock the potential of communities across the country through best in class broadband connectivity, transforming how people all over Ireland live, work, learn and play, see http://myconnectedcommunity.ie for a BCP near you.
According to Catriona Hilliard, Broadband/Digital Officer, “connectivity is key in this era of digitalisation and the development of these services will strengthen Offaly’s reputation as a forward-thinking and digitally inclusive urban and rural landscape, which strongly promotes access to on-line services and information across the county.”
Full details of the projects approved for funding under the Connected Hubs Scheme are available on https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/64df6-connected-hubs-fund/