Church Street, Athlone.

Athlone named as one of Europe's top 'micro cities of the future'

Athlone's potential for economic growth has been given a boost with the news that it was named one of the top 10 'micro European cities of the future' by fDi Intelligence, a branch of the Financial Times.

Last week, fDi Intelligence published its rankings of the flagship European Cities and Regions of the Future for 2022/23. The report is designed to assess locations based on their attractiveness to foreign direct investment (FDI).

In the 'micro cities' category, which involves places with a population of fewer than 100,000 people, Athlone was ranked ninth in Europe for 'economic potential' and came tenth in the 'human capital and lifestyle' category.

The top 10 'micro city' locations for economic potential also included Zug in Switzerland, Newbury in England, Monaco, and four other locations in Ireland: Limerick, Shannon, Galway and Dundalk.

In the 'human capital and lifestyle' category, Athlone was joined in the top 10 by the likes of Windsor in England, Lugano in Switzerland, Konstanz in Germany, Galway, Limerick and Dundalk.

Athlone's top 10 ranking was welcomed by the Midlands regional office of IDA Ireland, which said it was "great to see Athlone being recognised for its FDI potential, depth of talent and attractive work-life balance."

In the 'major cities' category, London came out on top for economic attractiveness, followed by Amsterdam, Paris, Dublin and Bucharest.

Announcing the rankings, fDi Intelligence said it had assessed more than 350 cities across the continent, and these had been ranked "based on data collected across five subcategories: economic potential, business friendliness, connectivity, human capital and lifestyle, and cost effectiveness."

The report concluded that, despite the impact of Covid-19, the investment outlook was "not all doom and gloom" in Europe.

"The pandemic's inevitable blow to investment inflows may not have spared European countries, but the region as a whole has proved resilient as an investment destination," it said.

The rankings, which can be accessed here were first published in the print edition of fDi Intelligence for February and March.