Last week National Enterprise Town Awards judges, Martina Maloney, Kevin Twomey and Katrina Murphy, visited a sunny Dún Laoghaire Town as part of the assessment process for Dún Laoghaire’s entry in these annual awards. Led by steering group chairperson Cllr Lorraine Hall, a group of the key stakeholders from the town (including DLR County Council, DLR Chamber, Crosscare, LexIcon, DL Active Retirement, The Glasshouses, Men’s Sheds, DL Central Residents Association and the DL Business Association) put together a fantastic itinerary for the judges.
During an action packed itinerary, which saw the judges stop at six key locations in the town, the judges spent time visiting the DigitalHQ clg initiative above the Bank of Ireland branch on George’s Street. DigitalHQ, a not-for-profit digital growth hub, delivers the Digital Dun Laoghaire programme of events and training. It is dedicated to helping small, traditional businesses get the most from digital and to helping the town, and its business community, market themselves effectively via the web. The judges witnessed a wide range of digital related activities taking place onsite at the facility during their visit.
After a group photo with members of DigitalHQ on the steps of the entrance the judges proceeded to a packed Digital Dun Laoghaire Brexit Briefing for local businesses in the community space on the top floor where they met guest speakers Clodagh Whelan (DLR LEO), Lee Evans (Bank of Ireland) and Pat Scanlan (DigiTorc).
On the first floor they joined a DigitalHQ focus group meeting facilitated by a DigitalHQ member, Adam Swift of Clear Strategy. The meeting saw representatives from Enterprise Ireland, IE Domain Registry, Microsoft, DLR LEO and local business owners contribute practical ideas on how small, independent local businesses can be best supported in increasing footfall and sales through digital.
On leaving this meeting the Judges proceeded to one of the shared coworking rooms where they met with members Ron McNamara (Driver Focus), Bárbara Pérez García ( CubaUnique.com ) and Ciaran Hudson (JNC Consulting). The members outlined the benefits of being located in a digital growth hub, the value to them of this community incubation space right in the heart of the town.
As the Judges departed for their next stop Eoin Costello, projector of DigitalHQ, shared with them new research published that day by economist Jim Power on the positive economic impact of digital growth hubs like DigitalHQ across the country. He commended Bank of Ireland for showing how unused office space in towns can be converted to incubation space with all proceeds going to the benefit of digitally enabling traditional businesses, it is a scalable model that could benefit many towns across the country he said.
The Judges commended the Dún Laoghaire Town Steering Group for the huge amount of work that had been put into the itinerary and they commented on the pride and the passion that each and everyone of the people they met displayed in their town.