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Don't blame us - angry Athlone chamber tells Mullingar counterpart

Friday, 11th September, 2009 1:00pm

Story by Danielle Harney
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The Chief Executive of Athlone Chamber of Commerce has criticised her counterpart in the Mullingar Chamber who said that Athlone seems to be favoured for new jobs or enterprises.

"They said they were disappointed that jobs were coming to Athlone. What they seem to be forgetting is that Athlone is part of Westmeath and the same county council," said Siobhan Bigley.

Mullingar Chamber published a survey which showed that 100 retail jobs have been lost in the county town since the recession began.

Chamber President Paul O'Brennan also hit out at the government, the IDA and Enterprise Ireland for allowing jobs to bleed from Mullingar into Athlone and other towns. He said that local business had been "let down" by government bodies that they have been using personal contacts to attract business to the area.

He said he personally believes that businesses appear to be guided towards Athlone and Tullamore, but it is something he cannot prove.

However, Ms Bigley said that a survey wasn't needed to prove that the same situation, or worse, was occurring in Athlone and that it's a matter for every town to keep as many jobs as possible.

"It's easy to calculate without a survey, everyone knows what shops have closed and what stands empty, and it's not just retail jobs. There's job losses here in manufacturing and even potential ones like Abiomed. There's a lot of jobs gone in teaching, engineers and architects are unemployed. Elan has let go nearly 100," she pointed out.

She said that a business survey was on the agenda of the Chamber meeting due to take place last night (Tuesday). And if members want a survey to take place, then it will be carried out.

She added that the chamber has met with every local bank manager in a bid to make sure that the credit crunch does not affect local small to medium enterprises. "If the business comes to the chamber first with a problem, the mangers have guaranteed that they'll help out as best they can."

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