“The Liberties is better for business” – that’s the message coming from local business leaders in Dublin 8 as they launch the first Annual Report of The Liberties Business Forum, and celebrate a unique partnership between the public and private sectors which is helping transform one of the city’s oldest and most distinctive neighbourhoods.
Speaking at the launch of the report, Catherine Heaney, Chairperson of the Liberties Business Forum said: “We recognised that, despite its many challenges and the difficult economic conditions of the past few years, The Liberties remains central to Dublin’s social and commercial life as one of the capital’s most visited areas. Our ambition in establishing The Liberties Business Forum was to bring its diverse business sectors together and put our collective strength behind its ongoing renewal.”
The Liberties Business Forum was established as a limited company in 2015 and has been strongly supported by Dublin City Council as a part of a wider effort to renew and reinvigorate social and economic life in the Dublin 8 area.
The Forum’s Annual Report, published today, sets out the achievements of the group in 2015, which many businesses acknowledge as the turning point for the area with increased footfall to visitor attractions, the arrival of new businesses, and almost €1bn of investment pledged to the area over the coming years.
Also speaking at the launch of the report, Stephen Coyne, Programme Coordinator of The Liberties Business Area Improvement Initiative said: “The Forum has been a mechanism to leverage private sector investment into The Liberties, which in turn, complements the considerable efforts of Dublin City Council in recent years.
“The Council has been proactively supporting businesses in the area with improved services and small grants to enhance shopfronts and buildings. The Initiative also functions as a point of information for new investment and enterprises which we want to attract to Dublin 8, and it communicates a positive message to the wider city about The Liberties and its ongoing renewal.”
Amongst the achievements noted in today’s report were the launch of a new website, www.libertiesdublin.ie and the design of a new logo and branding. Other initiatives include the creation of brochures, business guides and newly branded visitor maps for the area.
2015 also saw The Liberties Business Forum support greater participation in citywide events such Tradfest, Heritage Week and Culture Night while working to raise the profile of home-grown festivals such as the NCAD Graduate Shows and the annual Liberties Festival.
Meanwhile, the Forum’s work complements a multi-million euro programme by Dublin City Council to renew and improve streets and public spaces in The Liberties under its Liberties Greening Strategy and the Dublin capital investment programme, which it is undertaking with Fáilte Ireland.
Catherine Heaney added: “Our inaugural event as a company was the Liberties Showcase & Investment Expo which we ran at the Teelings Distillery last June, together with Dublin City Council. Over 200 people participated in the event, from business, the local community and local representatives, and the event offered a showcase of some of the dynamic sectors driving this area’s renewal. We were very pleased to welcome the then Minister for Jobs, Richard Bruton to the event and to highlight to him the dynamic sectors driving The Liberties as a distinctive business district, including design, healthcare, technology, food and drink and tourism. These are sectors which we want to see develop and expand further in Dublin 8.
“With the new National Children’s Hospital and expanded St James Campus under development; established and expanding business centres at The Digital Hub and GEC; the country’s premier art and design college at NCAD on Thomas Street; and many of the city’s top visitor attractions all within walking distance of each other, we believe there’s no better place in Dublin to be located. The area is ripe with opportunity.
“The Forum highlights that small and medium-sized independent businesses have always been the mainstay of commercial life in the area. As the economy continues to recover and entrepreneurialism gathers place in the city, we want to see more of these businesses establish here in The Liberties and become part of a vibrant community.
“The spirit of collaboration and ‘meitheal’ in The Liberties is an essential part of our area’s brand.”