Monday, January 25, 2021

The international branding of North Mayo as the Salmon Tech Valley and the development of Ballina as Ireland’s market town of the future are key recommendations of a new high-level strategy for that area’s spatial and economic development.

A presentation on the draft strategy was delivered to Ballina Municipal District councillors at last Wednesday’s January monthly meeting and the final report will be circulated in due course.

The document was commissioned by Mayo Co Council and compiled by planning and environmental consultancy, MKO, in association with tourism management consultants, Repucon.

Entitled Vision 2030 — North Mayo Economic Gateway, the strategy will have a complementary role to the Castlebar-Westport Economic Growth Cluster plan, which was proposed in January 2019, in the overall development of Co Mayo over the next 10 years.

Its remit is to further develop the synergies and linkages between towns throughout the north/east Mayo area as well as bordering areas of Co Sligo, with the town of Ballina acting as a central economic driver.

The strategy is structured around five growth pillars: The region’s people and places; its economic assets; natural assets; community assets, and catalytic infrastructure.

The strategy envisions the market town of Ballina as the key economic driver for the surrounding region. Picture: David Farrell Photography

Key proposals across these pillars include the Ballina Market Town LAB which is geared at establishing Ballina as Ireland’s market town of the future — a place to live and work that will help accelerate regional growth; the branding of the area as the Salmon Tech Valley — an international investment and innovation positioning that will help attract investment; establishing North Mayo as a sustainable tourism gateway through exceptional visitor experiences and infrastructure; cultivating the region as the destination of choice for multinational relocation of second sites and regional work bases and defining the area as Ireland’s green energy innovation hub through the development of a thriving renewable energy cluster.

Ballina-specific proposals include the revitalisation of the town core; the delivery of the planned Innovation Quarter at the old military barracks as a catalyst for urban regeneration and the creation of a cultural quarter as a gateway to North Mayo’s natural and cultural heritage.

Investing in indigenous industries, promoting sustainability and regional connectivity are also among the document’s recommendations.

The draft strategy was welcomed by the elected members and officials of the Ballina Municipal District with many stressing that improving roads infrastructure and connectivity must be a priority for the region.

The Salmon Tech Valley was a particularly popular proposal but Cllr Michael Loftus noted that the success of the strategy will ultimately be dependent on the availability of funding.

It was proposed to have the completed document presented at a full meeting of Mayo Co Council.

Mr Tom Gilligan, director of services for the Ballina Municipal District remarked: “This is a welcome initiative. We need to ensure that it becomes part of what we do going forward.”

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