• Drogheda’s ‘The Mill’ digital hub is home to 33 businesses with net wages of €2M
  • A study by economist Jim Power of Vodafone & SIRO’s national Gigabit Hub Initiative reveals that a digital hub in every county in Ireland could generate over 1,000 new businesses.
  • Study shows creation of smart working opportunities in Ireland regions could prove transformative for businesses and local communities.

1st October 2019:  A new first of its kind economic report from Vodafone Ireland has found that Drogheda’s ‘The Mill’ generates over €3.75 million for the local economy and has created 78 jobs directly and 54 indirectly. Nationally, smart working, with digital hubs in every county, could generate €312 million for the regional economy and create over 8,400 new jobs across over 1,000 new businesses.

The study, which was carried out by economist Jim Power, and commissioned by Vodafone Ireland, was undertaken to assess how smart working – flexible or remote working from home or a hub – can help rural communities thrive in a meaningful way. A quantitative analysis of job creation, talent migration, economic activity and outputs of the businesses that operate in six of Vodafone and SIRO’s digital hubs provides insight into the potential socio-economic benefits smart working practices could have, if replicated nationally in every county.

Drogheda’s ‘The Mill’ digital hub is home to 33 businesses with combined net wages of €2million – generating €0.62million in taxes.

The hubs assessed include; The Mill, Drogheda; New Work Junction, Kilkenny, Ludgate, Skibbereen; HQ Tralee; Creative Spark, Dundalk; and Enterprise House, Carlow.

Already each of these digital hubs are making significant contributions to the local economies and communities in which they operate. In terms of financial contribution, the combined economic data collected from each of the six hubs involved in the report reveals that they employ 462 people, host 176 businesses, contribute €27.3 million to the economy and €18.2 million in net wages earned. All of the digital hubs are operating at or close to full capacity and all want to expand their physical space further to satisfy significant growing demand.

According to the report, at a national level, if a digital hub was established in every county around Ireland; the potential to make a very significant economic, social and financial contribution across the country is very real.

In terms of potential employee taxes relating to hub employees, the study found that*:

  • €52 million could be generated for the Exchequer, with €1.56 million in commercial rates
  • 1040 unique new businesses,
  • 5,200 direct new jobs
  • 3,640 indirect employment in surrounding local communities where a digital hub is based.
  • €312million in economic contribution through the income multiplier effect**

According to the report, there are socio-economic pressures on urban centres and the businesses and communities based there. Cities are growing rapidly, commercial and residential rents are rising, childcare and transportation costs are increasing, and traffic congestion is at all-time high.

Alongside alleviating urban migration and slower regional economic growth, the study suggests that the widespread adoption of smart working would result in a significant reduction in congestion and commute times, ease pressure on housing in cities, provide greater availability of school places and generate more employment of young graduates locally. The research also paints a picture of how smart working can help rural communities thrive in a meaningful way and provide people with a better quality of life.

Author of the report, Economist Jim Power, said; “In a world where issues such as climate change, congestion, more balanced regional economic growth and development, and quality of life are becoming increasingly important and topical, the contribution that remote working will make to addressing these problems is very significant. With proper connectivity, there is no reason why remote working cannot grow in significance. This will benefit local economies, the environment and the wellbeing of employees and business owners. It is an unambiguous win-win situation.”

Director of Enterprise at Vodafone Ireland, Regina Moran, said, “Our study clearly shows that the creation of viable smart working opportunities in a hub, homeworking or a hybrid model in Ireland’s regions could prove transformative for people, businesses and local communities. The findings, which attest to substantial income generation and improvements in people’s quality of life, offer a viable basis for wider adoption of smart working in Ireland. It also provides proof of concept that smart working and digital hubs can act as a stimulus to addressing the urban and rural socio-economic challenges that exist in Ireland. Gigabit connectivity is fundamental to achieving that.

“In the context of congestion in urban areas; environmental considerations; and the desire for improved quality of life, the potential for future increased economic contribution from hubs that provide high quality broadband connection is significant. At Vodafone Ireland, we want connectivity to enable new ways of working that advance our rural communities and towns and help solve economic and social challenges in a meaningful way.”

Additionally, the study included a qualitative assessment with hub managers/owners, business owners and remote workers who operate from the digital hubs to gain insights into the societal benefits of smart working such as: quality of life, cost of living and community engagement.

Breanndán Casey, Innovation Manager, The Mill Drogheda, said; “The economic benefit of opening the hub 5 years ago has been instrumental in bringing jobs to Drogheda…they don’t have to go to Dublin. They can scale and grow a business from the Drogheda region.”

Colin Guilfoyle, MD Nebula Innovations, said; “It’s amazing, the quality of life. The amount of time dedicated to spending at work, I can actually spend it working! I am not spending it in traffic…and that’s priceless.”