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Council confirm Opensparkz project runs aground


Hopes expressed for ‘remodelled project’

Edwin McGreal

Mayo County Council have confirmed that Opensparkz Limited have pulled out of their planned purchase of the old Volex plant in Castlebar.
It leaves question marks over plans of 250 jobs for the facility announced when the Opensparkz deal was revealed in March 2015.
County councillors agreed to the sale of the former Volex building, on the Breaffy Road, to Opensparkz for €700,000 in June 2015 and it is understood that a deposit of €100,000 was paid by Opensparkz.
The company was seeking to develop a ‘technology cluster’ in Castlebar. Speaking to The Mayo News in March, 2015, Opensparkz founder Declan Conway said ‘we would be optimistic there will be 250 jobs in place over three years’. It was anticipated that ten companies would operate from the hub set up by Opensparkz.
The news was announced at an event in Washington DC attended by then Taoiseach Enda Kenny; Mayo County Council Chief Executive Peter Hynes; Cllr Damien Ryan, then Cathaoirleach of the council; Cllr Cyril Burke and Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway.
Speaking at the time, then Cllr Lisa Chambers, since elected to Dáil Eireann, raised some concerns.
“I welcome any job announcement, but I would be looking for more details. What type of jobs are they? Are they well paid? I’d also like to know when they will start.
We had the announcement of the Northbridge jobs two years ago, and there has not been one job from it.
“I would like to see something concrete. The announcement is timely one year out from a General Election, and we all know the Taoiseach is under pressure to make some sort of jobs announcement for the county town,” she said.
The matter was raised at last month’s meeting of Mayo County Council where Cllr Michael Kilcoyne queried what the situation now is with the property and its value.

In a statement issued this week, the council maintain they have hopes for progress at the site, despite confirmation of the Opensparkz plans falling through.  
“Work is continuing on the development of a food hub related project for the site.   
Opensparkz Limited, the initial proposer of the project will not be proceeding with the purchase of the building as originally envisioned but a remodelled project is being taken forward by one of the original partners and is the subject of ongoing discussion with Mayo County Council and with key State agencies. These discussions are commercially sensitive and it will be a number of months before they are concluded. The project, if successful, will bring significant benefits for Castlebar and Mayo at large,” said the statement.


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