Western Development Commission

 The Western Development Commission 

The WDC is a statutory body formed in 1998, promoting economic and social development in the Western Region of Ireland (counties Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Mayo, Galway and Clare) (www.wdc.ie).The WDC operates under the aegis of DAHRRGA[1] and its remit is to promote, foster and encourage economic and social development in the Western Region.  The WDC has the following strategic goals:

 To encourage the development of the regions rural economy based on the sustainable development of the Western Region’s strengths and resources.

  • To provide risk capital to SMEs and social enterprises in their start-up and expansion phases through the WDC Investment Fund.
  • To inform policy-making on economic and social development in the Western Region through high quality analysis.
  • To promote the benefits of living, working and doing business in the Western Region.

  A Regional Development capacity for the West of Ireland

 The WDC has developed a way of working that delivers a unique and effective response to the development challenges of a predominantly rural region. The WDC is a lean and efficient agency that delivers a critical capacity to the Western Region to identify, design and implement economic development and growth. Furthermore it adds value and regional ‘sensitivity’ to the work of national and international bodies and actively engages with regional interests through a combination of:

  •  Implementation - Initiation of regional programmes with partners that deliver real value ‘on the ground’ in a largely rural region;
  • Insight - development of a robust information base on regional issues which provides an acknowledged valuable input to national policy-making in areas such as energy infrastructure and broadband;
  • Identity -  Enabling and promotion of a globally recognised, regional identity – through the www.LookWest.ie platform the Western Region has a decade of investment that allows it to connect with tens of thousands of individuals and businesses (currently it accesses ~17, 000 social media colleagues). This provides an international ability to engage individuals and to attract talent and enterprise to our communities.
  • Investment -operating the Western Investment Fund (WIF) as a unique source of risk capital for entrepreneurs in the Western Region.

  

WDC Impact to date

  •  Investment in regional jobs - Since 2010 the WDC has sourced and directed over €13M in total funding towards regional enterprise and employment development
  • Regional Policy and analysis capability – This regional capacity has led to advances in critical areas such as broadband roll out , proliferation of the gas network to towns in the region, showcasing novel growth sectors such as the creative economy and ensuring the region is at the forefront of growing these areas. Ensured region involved in national initiatives such as CEDRA etc.
  • Realisation of regional jobs – In recent years approx. 2700 direct jobs and 5000 total (indirect and direct), have been significantly supported by the WDC in the region (Many through the WIF facility). 
  • Regional capability to access EU programming funds – From a standing start in 2009 the WDC now has a regional capacity to develop and deliver significant funding across a range of key growth sectors. In 2016 the WDC are engaged in EU projects with a total value of €6M and have arranged for local authorities technical assistance funding to access over €5M in low interest loan funding for Renewable energy DH schemes. The WDC has sourced finance and implemented practical enterprise support initiatives in critical regional growth sectors such as renewable Bioenergy, the creative economy, cultural tourism and the general micro and SME sector.
  • Regional “access to finance” capability- The WIF established by the Irish Government to be a unique source of risk funding to projects, businesses and communities in the region, has increased the regional access to venture capital (VC) funding.

Cumulative gains to date:

  • €46.6 million invested
  • 131 enterprises supported: 72 SMEs, 16 micro, 43 community enterprises
  • 2,500 jobs directly supported by the WIF alone
  • Regional identity – The www.Lookwest.ie platform has both given the region a brand with real reach (over 1M visits since launch, almost 20,000 social media “friends”), but has also allowed local authorities, organisations, individuals, and business engage with one another in all things of the West.