Lack of clarity and decisiveness have been the Covid hallmark throughout Europe. Whatever the timescale, there will not be an immediate return to normal trading conditions
Some larger sectors can emerge unscathed. Hospitality and Retail, especially the Micro, are most vulnerable. The situation is compounded in rural Ireland, already beset by decade’s long rural economic decline.
A recent report www.geodirectory.ie reveal commercial vacancy rate in Mayo of almost 17 per cent. The national figure is 13.5 per cent
The government supports, EWSS, PUP, and CRSS are indeed welcome. It is of course difficult to reconcile increasing debt levels without a revenue flow. Indeed government subvention is expected to continue.
The current focus is to bring about a series of Recovery solutions that can be effective and quick to implement. The government is again expected to provide input. Critically local towns and traders groups can synergize local campaign and deliver more immediate and practical results. Despite umpteen reports, there has been very few effective government measures to reduce rural decline
The unified local and county campaign must recognise and actively support an early Mayo Business Recovery initiative This is an opportunity to drive efforts on a County wide basis.. The recent announcement of bank closures in rural Ireland is further evidence of economic discrimination that has prevailed in Rural Ireland for decades
The County Marketing Company is currently a template. The full ecommerce site is offered on a Sub-domain basis, it allows each trader, a competitively costed, managed full etrading platform.
The Objective is simple, provide a cost effective online presence. for small local business and services. This allows the business owner a fully functional ecommerce site and minimizes operational input to order fulfilment
Early feedback suggest a concentration on the Retail and Hospitality sectors
In Mayo, the ShopPing element will concentrate initially on Ballina, Castlebar and Westport.. We will move as quickly as possible to outlying areas
We need to drive confidence and interest into the local retail sector. This is initially based on an ongoing series of online promotions and a renewed focus on customer care and service. In some areas it may be possible to introduce Click and Collect and/or home deliveries.
Tourism/Hospitality has two fundamental elements, Content and Communications
In pre-Covid times the Culturally Curious was identified as a growth segment.
The traits are those seeking local history and culture, outside of normal seasonal timeline and longer stayers. The attraction is on nonurban areas
Rural Ireland has more of an abundance of raw cultural information locally. This is enhanced with support from Duchas, providing digitized local material. Additional material is also available from OPW, Local Historical Societies.
It is intended the content can digitized all material, add video content into a series of QRVO, Quick Response Voice Over codes.
Technology allows for the update of all content. A series of local sites can present the material throughout the local area.
The outcome should be a network of local cultural sites presenting updatable content in an innovative tourism addition
The outcome is to target all business sectors in Mayo with a high level of support and services. We will of course have access to additional supports from Lean management and Debt Management services.
Early discussions must embrace short and long term recovery goals. Currently we lack a definitive timeline for the total end of Lockdown.
In the interim there is scope to present a countywide support structure to embrace that challenge .THIS IS A CRISIS OF TODAY.THIS IS A COUNTY CRISIS
The Recovery must be driven on a County basis, involving all business and commercial sectors. Much more can be achieved in a synergetic campaign. Two early presentation templates involve Local/County tourism and Retail
Local Business and Trade groups are expected to participate and contribute. The Local Authority is expected to provide meaningful support
While we cannot provide the perfect solutions, we are submitting some practical options for consideration, ie Growth Hubs, Smart Tourism County Marketing Company .
The early adoption of a Road to Recovery framework is critical.
Call to Action
The call to action is to establish a working group This should be led by the combined Chambers of Commerce in Mayo, already representing the local business community This will require the inputs of the relevant business communities and agencies A redevelopment structure , reflecting local needs must be quickly quantified .A progressive Mayo brand is suggested. Active participation from local media platforms is critical..
Support and participation is expected from LEO, LEADER, Teagasc and Udaras.Mayo Campus/GMIT, Mayo ETB, Westbic have indicated support. Dialogue will be initiated with WDC and NWRA. Mayo Chambers of Commerce, and those already representing local business sectors, will assume key development roles. The wider local business support, the greater the potential and outcome