Waterford Chamber has welcomed the commencement of construction on the €59m upgrade to the Coillte Panel Products SmartPly manufacturing facility in Belview, Waterford Port.

Minister of State Tom Hayes TD marked the beginning of construction today (Friday, January 30), which includes the development of a new Coillte Panel Products Innovation Centre, will create over 300 jobs during construction, and will secure the plant as one of the South East region’s biggest exporters.

Speaking at the event Minister Hayes said:  “SmartPly has been a hub of manufacturing activity for the South East region, constantly innovating, creating products that are used all over the world. The wood panel industry has a valuable role to play in Ireland’s export industry and this investment in both manufacturing and research and development will secure Coillte Panel Products as a major player in the European Panel products sector well into the future.”

Nick Donnelly, CEO Waterford Chamber said: “This is a welcome boost to the local construction industry and is hopefully a sign of things to come in the future. Smartply are significant employers in the region and they are showing confidence in the area by expanding their facility. The inclusion of an Innovation Centre is very exciting in terms of research, training and development and will certainly put the facility and the region firmly on the map.”

SmartPly, a Coillte company, currently employs over 160 people directly at the plant and 250 indirectly in the wider area. The plant uses trees, harvested mainly in the Southern part of the country, to manufacture innovative and sustainable wood products used by building companies in flooring, building frames, roofing, and many other applications. In 2014 SmartPly had total sales of approx 300,000 m3, of which over 90% represented products produced for export mainly through ports in the south east.

“This investment of €59m in our SmartPly manufacturing centre is part of a strategy to develop innovative new products and enable the company to increase sales in existing and new markets,” said Acting Coillte CEO Gerry Britchfield.

“For our suppliers, including farmers and private forestry growers, the new facility provides a long-term destination for pulp wood from forest thinning, as well as underpinning Coillte’s own supply to SmartPly in the region.”

Coillte’s forests have been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) scheme since May 2001, which demonstrates that they are well managed in accordance with strict environmental, social and economic criteria. The certificate is issued for five years and in 2011 Coillte successfully retained its FSC certificate following a full audit of its forests. In 2014 Coillte also secured certification by PEFC, the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes, another external validation of how we manage our forests. In 2013 Coillte won the Millicom Award for Environmental & Corporate Sustainability at the European Business Awards.


Action Plan for Jobs 2015: focus on regions vital to recovery


Waterford Chamber has today (29/01/15) welcomed the Action Plan for Jobs 2015, particularly its focus on regional job creation and development.


Speaking this morning, Nick Donnelly, Chamber CEO said, “There have been clear indications in recent months that our economic recovery is underway, however it has not reached all parts of Ireland. Many areas continue to face tough economic conditions and we welcome the Government’s commitment today to support enterprise and development in the regions.”


“Creating a unique Regional Enterprise Strategy for each region that takes into account their own specific issues is vital for the success of this programme. It is also fundamental that the Government does everything in its power to communicate and promote the various funds and supports introduced to businesses. We urge the Government to work closely with the local Chambers in each region who are uniquely placed to understand the problems facing business that act as barriers to job creation.”


“We also welcome the effectiveness review of public procurement policy to ensure that SMEs around the country can more actively participate in public procurement and urge that a proper understanding of obtaining “the best value possible” for the State encompasses more considerations than just the lowest price,” he concluded.

Waterford Gift Voucher - Participating Businesses




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Chamber welcomes IDA regional appointment


AMT Bio pic J0229140071 (3)Waterford Chamber President, Dr. Derek O’Byrne has welcomed the appointment of Anne-Marie Tierney-Le Roux as the new IDA Regional Manager for the South East.

Commenting on the announcement, Dr. O’Byrne said: “We at Chamber look forward to working with Anne-Marie in building a better future for Waterford. Job creation has always been, and will continue to be, a priority for us and we will offer every support to Anne-Marie in her bid to engage foreign investment for the region.

“Anne-Marie brings a wealth of experience to this role, having worked extensively in the South East with the IDA. In her role as Director of Europe for IDA Ireland, where she was responsible for leading European foreign direct investment to Ireland across the European network of offices in Paris, Frankfurt and London, she amassed an impressive portfolio of contacts and we are certain the region will benefit from that in the years to come.”

In July 2007 Anne-Marie opened the Paris offices of IDA Ireland as Director of France & Benelux (Paris) and in September 2009 moved to the role of Director of Europe. She is a law graduate of University College Dublin, holds an MSc in International Marketing (Glamorgan) and is an Associate Practitioner of the European Chartered Institute of Marketing (London Guildhall). Prior to working with IDA Ireland, Anne-Marie worked for the global consulting practice PriceWaterhouseCooper in London.

Anne-Marie brings strong management, operational and overseas experience to the role. As South East Regional Manager she will be tasked with regional marketing to clients and working with global operations teams in winning investments for the South East. Anne-Marie will also manage existing client relationships, stakeholder engagement in support of winning FDI for the Regions, the influencing agenda on the development of the skills, research and access and infrastructural development required for the Regions to complete for FDI investments and working to ensure that appropriate property solutions are available in the Region for FDI.

Arkopharma to close with 18 job losses


Waterford Chamber CEO Nick Donnelly has expressed his disappointment at the announcement that Arkopharma is to close in the city with the loss of 18 jobs.


The French-headquartered multinational specialising in herbal medicine and dietary supplement has had a site in Waterford since 1998 will cease operations in June with employees departing on a phased basis from the end of February onwards.


“The announcement of the close of Arkopharma is certainly regrettable, particularly as the site was performing well and has the highest calibre of personnel on site. Thankfully the company is looking after the interests of their staff and have engaged a specialist to assist them in identifying new employment opportunities within the sector.”


The smallest in the Arkopharma manufacturing organisation, the Waterford site supplies products to more than 20 countries with Russia and neighbouring countries among the key markets until recently.

Arts grants a welcome boost


Over €700,000 has been awarded to Waterford organisations by the Arts Council for the coming year.


Six organisations in total will benefit from the investment, including Spraoi, who have retained the same funding awarded in 2014.


Garter Lane will receive €170,000; €80,000 goes to the Theatre Royal Society, while Waterford Youth Arts have been allocated €50,000.


Waterford Healing Arts Trust will be in receipt of €95,000 and concluding the payout is Waterford City and County Council Arts Services who will bank €80,000.


Commenting on the funding, Waterford Chamber CEO Nick Donnelly said: “The arts are an integral part of our society and something Waterford is known for not just nationally but internationally. We bring the highest in standards to street theatre and stage and I am particularly happy to see Spraoi have retained their funding for the year ahead. Spraoi is undoubtedly the best street theatre festival in the country and contributes significantly to the local economy each year by attracting thousands of visitors to our city.


“I’m also delighted for Garter Lane and the Theatre Royal Society, both of whom are located in the Purple Flag zone here in the city centre and who bring great vibrancy to our evening and night time economy,” he concluded.

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