Drogheda ideally positioned to attract post COVID-19 commuters and expanding companies

Three Drogheda enterprise organisations have come together to develop a new Commuter strategy to retain the 15,000 skilled workers in the immediate district, and to encourage more start-ups, multinationals, and remote workers to base themselves in the wider Drogheda region.

 ATTACHED PHOTO L-R: Geoff Fitzpatrick (Chair, Love Drogheda BIDS); Trevor Connolly (CEO Love Drogheda), Irene McKeown (Manager, Drogheda Chamber), Robert Murray (President, Drogheda Chamber), Breanndán Casey (Innovation & Enterprise Manager, The Mill Enterprise Hub).

According to Breanndán Casey, Innovation & Enterprise Manager at The Mill Enterprise Hub, “The Census 2016 figures highlight that within fifteen minutes of Drogheda town centre, we have 14,992 of its most talented people travelling outside of the area, clogging up the roads and public transport systems, sitting in over-priced offices and wasting up to the equivalent of six working days per month travelling to the office. Over four out of every ten available workers are commuting outside of the area every day. This is simply unsustainable from an environmental, community, mental well-being, and regional enterprise development perspective, and it is obvious that commuters are craving to have the choice to live and work locally. With this in mind, we will be creating a new CommuTECH programme, a tailored support initiative to work with skilled commuters on developing a start-up. We’re asking commuters and employers to alter their perception of Drogheda, embrace change, and join our active business community as we develop our Regional Growth Centre status. ”.

Drogheda & District Chamber, The Mill Enterprise Hub, and Love Drogheda Business Improvement District Scheme (BIDS) conducted a commuter survey in March 2020 and commissioned an analysis of the Census 2016 figures in relation to Drogheda’s commuting habits and skills availability.

The census figures highlight that:

  • 14,992 skilled commuters living within 15 minutes of Drogheda leave the region every day. This increases to over 56,000 workers when the region is expanded to a 30-minute radius of Drogheda.
  • 42% of all available workers within 15 minutes of Drogheda are currently commuting to an external location. They are highly skilled with 60% having a third level education and 47% working in a managerial or professional role.
  • Over 60% of commuters are travelling for more than one hour each way, with 9% of those in Drogheda spending over 90 minutes commuting each way.
  • 30% of commuters in the 30-minute zone of Drogheda work within the ICT sector.

Robert Murray, President of Drogheda & District Chamber stated “The census figures clearly show that we have the skills locally to attract and develop businesses in the region. Drogheda, the largest and fastest growing town in Ireland, has undergone a seismic shift from a traditional industrial town and is now identified as a Regional Growth Centre in the Government’s 2040 National Plan. We are determined to develop local opportunities and ensure that Drogheda reaches its full potential. The Chamber is delighted to have developed a very strong working relationship with the Drogheda BIDS and The Mill Enterprise Hub, and together, we will do all we can to attract and welcome new businesses here. We’re working on a number of initiatives to showcase our skills, amenities, property options and economic support structures. In particular, we believe that we will see a significant increase in interest from commuters who will not want to, or possibly just won’t be able to return to their existing role or office, and will require a flexible solution of remote working, co-working, and local office space”.

The Drogheda organisations also conducted a commuter survey of the Drogheda and East Meath region with over 800 respondents. “ The census figures are proof that we have the skills and commuters here, but the survey has also highlighted how enthusiastic commuters are in relation to working locally with 77% of respondents stating that it is of significant interest to them” according to Trevor Connolly, CEO of Drogheda BIDS.

He continued “Existing local companies and potential investors to the region highly value skilled employees. It is a critical factor when looking at where to establish or expand a business, whether you are a Multinational seeking a first location or second site solution, or if you are a scaling indigenous company. Our housing and office costs are significantly lower than Dublin which will be of interest for anyone looking to employ someone with significant experience but who is also seeking to purchase a family home. In addition, over 50% of respondents stated that they would take a reduction in salary to find a local job, with the majority saying that they were willing to take a 15% salary reduction. These Census facts and survey results, alongside the attractive quality of life in Drogheda, indicate that Drogheda is ideally placed to manage a significant increase in jobs”.

Other results from the survey included:

  • 37% of commuters spend more than €250 per month on travel costs
  • 51% travel un-accompanied in a vehicle
  • 45% of commuters are leaving their home before 7am
  • 52% of commuters said that their employer would not allow them to work remotely.

The three organisations are working with all local and national government agencies on showcasing Drogheda’s existing economic strengths including niches in shared services, food manufacturing, a burgeoning fintech cluster across the M1 region, and medical products.

Visit www.themilldrogheda.ie/embracethechange  for more details.