The Waterford business community gathered in glorious sunshine at the Haven Hotel for Waterford Chamber’s President’s Summer Gala, sponsored by AIB and featuring guest speaker Michael Lohan, CEO of IDA Ireland. 

Following a lovely drinks reception on the lawn, sponsored by Liberty Blue Estate Agents, Niall Harrington, President of Waterford Chamber, welcomed the large crowd, thanking the sponsors for their longstanding support of the region’s largest business representative organisation.

Speaking about levelling-up Waterford, Niall’s theme for the year of his presidency, he said: “We all have the same desire - to have balanced regional development across our country with matching balance regional investment.

“With the largest regional City population catchment after Dublin at 634,000 people, the Waterford City Region is lagging behind in investment terms when compared to a city like Cork for example. Notwithstanding the lack of balance regional investment, our initial ask is not all about money.” 

He went to highlight the key issues for economic growth in Waterford, namely Waterford Airport, off-shore wind and equitable funding for SETU. 

Michael Lohan, CEO of IDA Ireland, acknowledged Niall’s points and concurred that regional balance was essential in order to achieve the ambitions set out in the National Development Plan. 

“Balanced regional development is a cornerstone of IDA Ireland’s strategy, and the South East region exemplifies the success of this strategy, attracting investment from both new companies to Ireland and those expanding their operations. 

“The region boasts a significant high-value manufacturing cluster, with over half of the 15,000 people employed by IDA client companies in the South East, working within the Life Sciences sector. Notable developments in the sector in Waterford include Bausch + Lomb's €90 million expansion, creating 130 high-skilled jobs and Eirgen Pharma’s €12 million investment in a new state-of-the-art manufacturing and packaging facility.” 

He went on to praise Red Hat and IBM for their recent expansion, saying, “With Red Hat’s origins as a university spinout company from Waterford IT, this investment is testament to the strength of our startup ecosystem and our vibrant RD&I landscape. It also shows the importance of third-level research continuously scanning the horizon for future disruptive research areas and the next generation of enabling technologies to help attract the next waves of FDI into Ireland.” 

After a delicious meal, the sun set over the spectacular Dunmore East Bay and the networking continued, showing the business community in Waterford is committed, determined and willing to work together to grow the region.