The Mill, Drogheda’s new Enterprise Hub, was officially opened by the Mayor of Drogheda, Councillor Richie Culhane on Tuesday, May 20th. The Enterprise Hub has been named ‘The Mill’ in recognition of Drogheda’s proud commercial and industrial heritage dating back to the early 1800s.
The opening of The Mill is a positive declaration of Drogheda’s commercial flair and of the serious intention to develop entrepreneurship within the region.
According to Chairman of The Mill, Graham O’ Rourke, “The Mill has lofty ambitions to increase the number of start-ups in the region, encourage innovation and support a number of key initiatives such as the Digital and Food sectors, Youth and Female Entrepreneurship and Social Entrepreneurship”.
Already home to nine businesses, The Mill provides a base for twenty full-time employees, including the US e-payments firm, Yapstone International and a number of small companies from a myriad of business sectors, who are availing of modern office facilities, state of the art technology, hot desks, and a number of networking and training opportunities. There is capacity for an additional forty people in The Mill.
The opening included a panel discussion from companies using the facilities, so-called “Mill-ers”, and local entrepreneurs which focused on how Drogheda must continue to innovate in the 21st century, develop new business sectors and embrace an entrepreneurial and inquisitive spirit. This was especially evident when local student, Anna McEvoy, winner of the Drogheda Young Innovators competition, discussed her project that investigated the aetiology of bleeding canker disease in chestnut trees, which also recently won a Young Scientist 2014 Award.
Bronagh Conlon, CEO of Coomara, the first company to locate in The Mill, spoke about the need for entrepreneurs to embrace the assistance available from local support organisations including The Mill. Ann Reilly, MD of local firm, Paycheck Plus said that starting a business can be a lonely exercise, and it’s crucial that entrepreneurs are encouraged via networks like The Mill.
Local man, Gavin Cooney, arrived direct from Dublin Airport where he had just landed from Seattle. As CEO of Learnosity, an award-winning education technology company with bases in three continents, he spoke of the challenges and rewards of targeting a global digital business. He added that, given the support available, there is no reason why start-ups in The Mill could not develop a global business.
Private sector funding has proven to be vital to the project with over €250,000 coming from private donations and local companies, including CRH, State Street, Coca-Cola International Services, Flogas and a number of smaller businesses in the region.
Jack Gordon of CRH plc, on behalf of the Private Funders, spoke about CRH’s long association with Drogheda through its Irish Cement plant, and of how they had no hesitation in assisting the project when he was approached by Eugene Kierans of Drogheda Chamber.
In addition, Enterprise Ireland, Louth Leader Partnership, Drogheda Borough Council, Louth County Enterprise Board and Drogheda Chamber of Commerce provided valuable financial and advisory support. Drogheda Borough Council donated the site to The Mill, and Joan Martin, Drogheda Town Clerk and Director of Services, was of great assistance as an active Board member of The Mill. Tom Hayes, of Enterprise Ireland, outlined the need for developing an entrepreneurial spirit in the community, and how The Mill will give future start-ups and SMEs a real head-start with their expansion plans.
Finally, Drogheda’s Enterprise Hub, The Mill, has recalled Drogheda’s proud commercial tradition by naming each office suite after a local 19th or 20th century enterprise, for example Casey’s Brewery, The Linen Hall and Preston Distillery.