Mayor Alan Shaw has congratulated the promoters of the Euro China Trade Hub on their achievement of a further milestone to making this project a reality. “This is very positive news for Athlone and the Midlands region”, Mayor Shaw said.
Phase 1 of the project may go to An Bord Pleanala if appeals against the decision by Westmeath Co Co to grant permission are made. The prospect of a major jobs boost for the Midlands is now one step closer and while a huge amount of work has yet to be undertaken in securing funding and investors, the promoters do have something very positive to work with now. Covering 32 hectares of the 137 hectare site, Phase 1 will require an investment of €175M and create 1,200 jobs during the construction phase.
Following the unveiling of the miniature size model of the trade hub last May, the Mayor was awe struck by the size and scale of the project which was described in detail by the local promoters at the time. The Trade Hub is a forum for international buyers to primarily enter contracts for the purchase of Chinese manufactured product.
Once up and running, the thousands of jobs created, the majority of which will be Irish, are high end jobs that will be clean to the environment, as there are no direct pollutants arising from the business undertaken at the Trade Hub. The focus on clean energy at the proposed Trade Hub is particularly welcome. The use of solar energy generation will provide the majority of power needed and this is of critical importance for the environment.
Cllr Shaw queried a number of issues at a meeting held in the Shamrock Lodge last May to determine the scale of the project as well as the consideration being given for the local area and its environs.
Phase 1 is expected to require an investment of €175M and 1,200 local jobs created during the construction phase.
- 1,500 full time jobs will be created in phase 1 after the construction phase is completed.
- A new train station is envisaged off the main Athlone – Dublin route and this will be built on completion of the project. A shuttle bus service with the town centre will also provide connectivity between the town centre and the trade hub.
- A 10 year timescale is envisaged to bring the project to full completion depending on international trade forces.
- The tourism potential from the project cannot be overstated. Opportunities will arise to develop new attractions for the 30,000 weekly business visitors as well as dramatically increasing demand for existing tourist attractions in Athlone and the wider environs.
- The injection of people and wealth to the local economy is likely to have a direct impact on demand for housing, accommodation and goods and services.
There is also the need to ensure that local interests are given careful consideration from many different perspectives before embarking on a project like this. I am confident that the Planning process will ensure that all affected parties will be heard and any issues taken on board to make the plan as inclusive and accommodating as possible.