Wexford Enterprise Association (WEA) has launched its Stakeholders’ Report which highlights the progress and challenges faced by the organisation during 2019 and 2020. And while the pandemic has taken its toll on many local businesses, the report highlighted the work WEA has done in boosting the local economy since its formation in 1986. It found that WEA has created 2000 jobs across 200 companies in its 35 years and that it currently employs 30 members of staff within Wexford Enterprise Centre (WEC), one of Ireland’s first and largest Enterprise Centres; Datagroup, a national supplier of document management services; and Recycling 2000, manufacturers of animal bedding products.
From a social enterprise perspective these companies contribute €10m per annum to Wexford’s economy on an anual basis. Datagroup was set up in 2010 to create employment opportunities for those combating disability, social exclusion and marginalisation and employed an average of 23 people during 2019 and 2020, 50 per cent of whom have a physical disability. Underlining its focus on improving the lives of those within its communities, WEA launched its Youth Mental Health Programme in partnership with Ferns Diocesan Youth Service (FDYS) and enabled 112 people across the county to access professional counselling services through enhanced assessment capabilities.
WEA also launched WorkAbility in 2019, partnering with Employability Wexford, this programme gives companies in WEC incentives and supports to employ people with disability. The Student Enterprise Awards began in 1994 and were co-founded by WEA and the Wexford County Enterprise Board. And in the academic year of 2019/2020, 1,155 students created 480 mini-companies in 18 schools in Co. Wexford.
TradeBridge is an international trade initiative linking Savannah, Georgia with local businesses and, to date, 35 companies from Wexford and the south east have engaged with this pilot programme, representing the Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing, Agritech, Education and Information, Communications & Technology (ICT) sectors. TradeBridge has since received funding from Enterprise Ireland to develop it into a Regional Development Programme.
Chairman of Wexford Enterprise Association, Éamonn Murphy said, “Our journey has presented many challenges along the way. 2019 was particularly difficult and brought several new challenges which were not of our making. During 2020, Covid-19 tested us in ways we never thought possible. But adversity forces new thinking, change, and a determination to succeed. With guidance from our dedicated voluntary Board, our Chief Executive Brendan Ennis and his team, we embraced change, developed new strategies, and delivered for those we serve, while remaining true to our core values of integrity, inclusiveness, and innovation.”
Dr David Dempsey, co-founder of Salesforce Europe and member of the Wexford Enterprise Association Board, officially launched the stakeholder’s report. David hails from Wexford and is Country Leader and General Manager at Salesforce Ireland. “I was invited to join the board of Wexford Enterprise Association back in 2015. It’s unique business model and the many dynamic people, past and present, that have served on the board, made me want to be part of this team working for the betterment of Wexford. I believe the phrase is: Think globally. Act locally.”
Source: Wexford People Paper