Major digital and innovation hub announced for Ballina

A SUM of €3.2 million government funding under the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund 2018 has been approved for the transformation of Ballina's 18th century military barracks.

It is to be developed into a digital hub and innovation quarter in an exciting and pioneering project that marks the start of a new era for Ballina and its hinterland, Senator Michelle Mulherin confirmed.

She elaborated: "The digital hub will provide 20 spaces for technology, digital media and internet companies to scale and grow alongside local enterprises and a distillery which will be established by SMAKS, an international private investor which will create jobs in the production of high-end rum.

“Plans realised would see Blackstone Launchpad a vehicle company used National University of Ireland, Galway providing third level outreach in entrepreneurship supporting an innovation and enterprise centre for seed and scaling up new businesses.

"This project has the potential to be transformational. Not alone will it restore a centre piece in our built heritage, the Military Barracks built in 1742, and unlock its tourism and cultural potential, but it will be a living functioning building realising plans for investment and jobs and put Ballina on the map internationally as a place to start and grow a digital business.

“Ballina Chamber of Commerce and local businesses and stakeholders have a can-do and will-do attitude that has being crucial in bringing this project to fruition.

“The decision to support this project shows a serious commitment by government to revitalising the fortunes of Ballina and its hinterland of north and east Mayo and south Sligo in line with the objectives of Project Ireland 2040 which will deliver growth in Rural Ireland and help resolve many of the pressures on the big urban centres.

"We are in a digital age that offers enormous opportunities and by building up a strategic market town in rural Ireland like Ballina it gives our area a fighting chance to grow economically through innovation and creativity and provide much needed employment opportunities so that more and more people especially our youth can avail of an opportunity to stay and live and work in the Ballina area.

"I believe it demonstrates what we can achieve pulling together and look forward to us now forging ahead with the creation of Ballina’s digital and innovation hub and the other benefits which will flow from its establishment."