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24 May 2022

Creative Spark's Downtown hub in Dundalk praised in Leinster House

Creative Spark's  Downtown hub in Dundalk praised in Leinster House

There was praise in Leinster House last week for the Dundalk digital hub, conceived by Creative Spark.

Sinn Féin TD Ruairí Ó Murchú highlighted how Creative Spark Downtown in Clanbrassil Street is a "game changer" for remote working during questions to Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD.

The Dundalk deputy said a good example of remote working hubs was Creative Spark Downtown, where the benefits of a workplace can be seen without necessarily the need to undergo long commutes, as might be the case where a business is based in Dublin or further afield.

"That is vital. I have recently had phone calls relating to the connected hubs funding call and people have expressed interest", he continued.

"We need to ensure the correct funding mechanism are in place in order that we can deliver this scheme where it is needed.

"It will be a lifeline for small towns, in particular, and even for larger towns such as Dundalk.

"We have a big issue with vacant sites. They could be used as hubs but, of course, we will also have to consider the wider issue of housing.

"In fairness, County Louth has a number of these hubs and is already seeing successes, as the Minister pointed out in respect of the Mill centre, Drogheda, and beyond.

"Creative Spark has its primary building as well as this new, secondary building, but a considerable number of other businesses are examining the idea too."

He said that the level of funding for hubs needs to be sufficient.

He said: "It is about improving circumstances where there are already remote working hubs or where remote working of some sort exists.

"Do we need to consider other modalities to be able to provide for new, perhaps small remote working hubs in towns such as Dundalk?"

In response, Minister Humphreys said local authorities can apply to her department for funding through the town and village renewal scheme or the rural regeneration scheme for the infrastructure. In terms of the kitting out of the facilities, you can apply to the connected hubs but, if you want to do so, you have to register to use the app.

"We have 223 hubs on board and aim to have 400 on board by 2025.

"I expect us to meet that target way before that. We want to get employers to see the benefits of remote working and we want more people to get involved with it. We have one chance and it is now."

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