December 9, 2009

Inaugural North South Research Forum meeting held

What is the Future for Local Economic Development in the Context of the Global Economic Crisis?
Wednesday 9 December 2009
Crowne Plaza, Dundalk, 10am – 1pm.

The inaugural North South Research Forum took place on Wednesday 9th December 2009 at the Crowne Plaza, Dundalk – from 10.00am – 1.00pm.

Keynote speakers:

Ms Céline McHugh, Senior Policy Advisor, Forfás
Regional Competitiveness Agendas – supporting enterprise development in the regional context

Mr Michael Smyth, Head of School of Economics, University of Ulster
Local Economic Development In a Cross-Border Framework

Céline McHugh, is a Senior Policy Advisor in the Enterprise Policy Department at Forfás – the Republic of Ireland’s national policy and advisory Board for enterprise, trade, science, technology and innovation – since October 2008. Prior to this she was a Regional Marketing Executive with IDA Ireland. She holds a PhD in Geography from the National University of Ireland, Maynooth (specialising in local and regional development issues).

Ms McHugh’s presentation will provide an overview of a recently completed Forfás study which adopted a future-oriented perspective seeking to enhance the competitiveness of Irish regions for enterprise development. Using a broad framework of competitiveness factors, a review of each of the NUTS III regions was undertaken which highlighted key assets and opportunity areas for enterprise development. A key output of the project has been the generation of a suite of Regional Competitiveness Agendas (RCAs) which provide a platform for collaborative action within the regions. The RCAs have been used to inform Regional Economic Strategies as part of the on-going review of Regional Planning Guidelines by the Regional Authorities in the South (which are due for completion in March 2010). The presentation will focus on findings in relation to the Border region. It will also highlight some of the key cross-cutting issues and challenges for enterprise development identified across all the regions, and their policy implications.

Michael Smyth is Head of Economics at University of Ulster’s School of Economics. He has been an academic economist for over thirty years and has published widely in academic and professional journals. His research interests are in regional policy and local economic development. He is a member of the editorial board of the First Trust Bank Business Outlook and Economic Review and commentates regularly on the short to medium term prospects for the Northern Ireland economy.

Michael Smyth’s paper will attempt to place local economic development within the wider macroeconomic environments on this island, in these islands and internationally. The global financial and economic crisis have spawned huge top-down macroeconomic policy responses while the main casualties of the economic meltdown have been the self-employed and employees in vulnerable sectors such as construction, financial services, business services, distribution. The paper will address the issue of policy and structural misalignments in the two economies as a barrier to cross border development and cooperation. The macro-contexts in the two economies at present are not conducive to greater cooperation but opportunities at a local level appear to be more relevant. The paper will outline some areas for consideration such as cultural and heritage tourism, leverage of Project Kelvin, access to European Investment Bank finance on a cross-border basis, supply chain opportunities and the relevance of a Commons framework approach to cross border development.

The Centre for Cross Border Studies, founded in 1999 and with offices in Armagh and Dublin, researches and develops cooperation across the Irish border in education, training, health, the economy, planning, public administration, information provision and a range of other practical areas. The North/South Research Forum is one of the Ireland/Northern Ireland Cross-border Cooperation Observatory (INICCO) group of projects funded by the EU INTERREG IVA Programme (managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).