A relationship between Mayo County Council and the US state of Rhode Island has helped some Mayo companies gain a foothold in the American market.
Plans to open an Ireland West International Trade Centre in downtown Providence, the state capital, are now at an advanced stage. This centre will provide Mayo companies with office space to help them establish themselves in the US market.
David Minton of Mayo County Council gave a presentation on the trade centre at last Tuesday’s Tourism and Food Strategic Policy Committee meeting in Ballina.
Mr Minton said the trade relationship between Mayo and Rhode Island was established two years ago, when the state’s then governor, Lincoln Chafee, visited Mayo. This was followed up by a return visit by Taoiseach Enda Kenny last year, during which a ‘memo of understanding’ was signed.
Mr Minton said the Centre will provide ‘a soft landing into the American market’ for Mayo companies, providing not only an address and office space but also access to a local network of business supports and relevant professionals.
He said that Mayo companies, such as Irish TV, Horizon and PEL, had already begun to use the space while Monaghan Brothers Furniture had already secured three contracts with Yale University through this connection.
The meeting also heard that the trade centre was ‘ideally located’ between New York and Boston.
Joanne Grehan, Head of Enterprise and Investment at the council, said that while it was initially the Mayo Trade Centre, it has now become ‘a collaboration’ with some local authorities in Connacht, the Western Development Commission and Ireland West Airport Knock. Arising from their combined financial support for the airport, other local authorities in the region have made an expression of interest in partnering on the project.
She added that the centre will be tourism and trade centred and the cost of the project will be around €140,000 across all partners.
Cllr Tereasa McGuire (FG) described the project as ‘innovative’ and ‘creative’ and one that ‘supports our own at home and abroad’.
The Trade Centre building will also include a room that will showcase a range of Mayo produce. Mr Minton said any costs would be dependent on the level of funding provided by Enterprise Ireland.