OPINION: Laurence May, Head of KPMG in Galway on the business landscape in the West of Ireland.

Proper planning and investment can see Western Ireland counterbalance Dublin.


Dublin continues to account for a disproportionate amount of Ireland’s economic and business activity, and there is a clear need for greater investment in rural Ireland to act as a counterbalance. In particular, Galway and the wider Connacht region have significant potential to develop rapidly in the coming years. As proud members of Guaranteed Irish, the business membership organisation championing over 600 homegrown and international businesses in Ireland, KPMG has long been committed to supporting growth in the west of Ireland.

2020 will mark KPMG’s 40th year in Galway and the business landscape in the West of Ireland has never been as strong as Laurence May, Head of KPMG in Galway, explains. When we set up here in 1980, we knew Galway and the wider region had great potential. Our continued expansion reflects our confidence in the region and the continued success of our clients, which range from dynamic private and family owned businesses to leading multinationals.

We have a significant and growing presence in Galway and are involved in many aspects of life and business in the city. For example, we are actively involved with and support the Galway Chamber of Commerce and Industry and its initiative with Galway City Council in developing the Galway City Innovation District (GCID) and the PorterShed project, of which we are a proud sponsoring partner. Indeed, the PorterShed and the Galway Technology Centre have both had recent successes with Altocloud and Netfort, respectively, which demonstrates that the ecosystem for start-ups and for companies as they scale is very strong in Galway.

Sligo has also seen a lot of investment in recent times. Initiatives such as The Landing Space, The Building Block and IT Sligo’s incubation unit provide excellent facilities for both FDI and indigenous businesses that want to establish in Sligo.

The success of the West of Ireland has been based on a range of factors from excellent third level education at NUI Galway, IT Sligo and the GMIT and to the work of the IDA, Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise offices in supporting existing businesses and attracting new ventures to the region. This is evidenced by the significant clustering of the medtech and ICT sectors in Galway and by the presence of other significant employers in the healthcare, marine, arts and tourism sectors. Organisations like Guaranteed Irish also play a key role in supporting businesses across the region.

Recent FDI investment announcements from Rent the Runway, MathWorks and GW Plastics demonstrate that the West is an attractive location for businesses looking for highly skilled employees to locate.

However, while FDI is very important to the West, the bedrock of activity remains the indigenous sector, including numerous family owned businesses, many of whom now have operations throughout Europe and further afield. These include JFC in Tuam, McHale Engineering in Ballinrobe and Portwest in Westport. All three are great examples of how the indigenous family business sector is so important to creating employment and opportunities throughout the region and how West of Ireland businesses can become global players.

The success of the West of Ireland is important, not just for people living in the West, but for the country as a whole. With proper planning and support, we can act as a counterbalance to the concentration of economic activity in Dublin. As the region improves its infrastructure, including broadband, further activity and opportunities will develop.

The business community constantly sells the virtues of the West of Ireland at every opportunity: our people and their education and skills; our entrepreneurial drive; the support we offer those businesses who chose the West of Ireland as their European Gateway, and the incredible quality of life available here on Europe’s West Coast. The region is dynamic and a great place to live and work.

Guaranteed Irish as an organisation is all about supporting businesses, jobs, and communities across Ireland – encouraging and championing responsible and sustainable business practice and businesses that make a genuine commitment to the country. We’ve worn the Guaranteed Irish symbol with pride for many years, and look forward to supporting businesses in Galway and across the west of Ireland for many more years to come.

Opinion piece by Laurence May, Head of KPMG in Galway.

The next Guaranteed Irish Better Your Business Workshop takes place in The Galmont Hotel, Galway on April 30, 2019. Our guest panellists include Siobhan Donlevy KPMG, Marian Harkin MEP, Tomas O Siochain CEO Western Development Commission & more. Register today via Eventbrite or please contact Jennifer directly at events@guaranteedirish.ie to reserve your place.


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