The very best of Ardee’s business and community life was showcased on Thursday as judges from the Bank of Ireland Enterprising Town competition paid a visit to the town and heard from a variety of local stakeholders, business owners and volunteers.
At a wide ranging talk held at Ardee Business Park, the judges heard from amongst others – Jim Malone, Deirdre MacCormack of Mcor Technologies, Bryan Lynch of Bryan Lynch Salads, Ardee Traders & Business Association chairman Hughie O’Neill, former town clerk Miriam Roe and Miriam Clarke of Ardee Tidy Towns.
The visitors were also treated to a tour of the North East Food Hub facility where they met Simply Fit Food founders Evelyn Garland and Luke Judge. Finally, they went to the Dee Hub where co-ordinator Pat Flynn showed them around the community resource centre.
Local Enterprise Office Louth’s Thomas McEvoy got proceedings underway before Louth County Council chairman Colm Markey welcomed the visitors and Jim Malone took to the lectern to explain the role the Business Park and the North East Food Hub play in growing Ardee’s community and business economy.
O’Neill also spoke, giving the three-strong judging panel some background on Traders activities and what they are involved with in the town – including the BAFTAs, the Christmas Lights Switch-On and the An Tain March. Miriam Clarke gave what was a detailed presentation on all of the hard work Ardee Tidy Towns undertake year-on-year, showing off many of the attraction and areas of interest in Ardee.
“We here in Ardee are extremely proud that have we have something that no other town in Ireland can say,” she said. “Ardee is Ireland’s first Age-Friendly Town. Roe spoke briefly about the Ardee Age Friendly initiative. “The Age Friendly project was due to the amazing spirit of cross-sectoral inter-generational collaboration in the town. Ardee is truly an Age Friendly town and it’s an enterprising community that we are all very proud to be part of. I think we have set the gold standard for other towns to follow.”
Ardee businesswoman Deirdre MacCormack (above), Chief Marketing Officer of Mcor Technologies, also spoke about her company and their Ardee roots. “Mcor started out it’s life here in Ardee and we’re very proud of that. I myself am an Ardonian and when we decided to set up a business, we did so here in our home town.”
Described as “a fabulous example of enterprise in Ardee”, Deirdre was followed by Bryan Lynch who spoke about his business in Ardee and used the opportunity to announce the expansion of his Bryan Lynch Salads business. They will move into a vacant 12,500sq premises on site at the Business Park and double their workforce to 50. That news was met with great delight by all present.
“We’re going to develop it into another food factory. We’re expanding our business. It’s official. We’re hoping to create another 25 jobs roughly. We hope to employ up to 50 people and we hope to employ people locally to build the factory,” he continued. “It’s a big acheivement for us as a small company. Ardee is an exceptional area. It’s very, very central. I wouldn’t have bought that if I didn’t see potential in it. I see a lot of potential in it.”
In the DeeHub, judges met with traders John Caffrey, John O’Brien as well as Pat Flynn and programme co-ordinators Damien McKenna (LEAF Programme) and Nicola Carrie (Mid-Louth Strengthening Families). The trio explained to the judges what their respective roles are at the DeeHub, and informed them about the facility and programmes delivered there. Damien is a new addition to the team, with the DeeHub announcing his new role just on Wednesday.
Among those also present on the day were Karen Duffy, Colman O’Flynn, Brendan Matthews (Ardee Tidy Towns), Stephen Englishby (Trailervision/ATBA), David Dowling (Bank of Ireland Ardee, branch manager) and local Fine Gael councillor Dolores Minogue.
Judge Tom Hayes called the presentations “very comprehensive”, saying “they touched on every aspect of a town with 5,000 people – form enterprise to community to Tidy Towns”.
Back in May, Ardee held it’s second Bank of Ireland Enterprise Town event in the former church on John Street. Over 70 exhibitors took part, with ex-rugby player Brent Pope and Louth All-Ireland winner Aidan Magennis among the guests. It was the second such event to be held in Ardee, with Bank Of Ireland holding it’s first Enterprise Town event in 2015.
The Awards have been devised after a pilot run in 2016. They aim to assist in the promotion of enterprise across the country by bringing business and community groups together to showcase to a panel of judges, the spirit of enterprise in their local area. With over 30 monetary awards in total plus trophies (the total prize fund €110,000), the overall winning town or city village/area will be awarded €23,000 plus a trophy.