The Programme for a Partnership Government and the Action Plan for Rural Development both commit to progressing the Atlantic Economic Corridor initiative to support the development of the western part of the country, from Donegal to Kerry.
The objective of the AEC project is to maximise the assets along the western seaboard and connect the economic hubs, clusters and catchments of the region to attract investment, support job creation and contribute to an improved quality of life for people in the region. The National Planning Framework recognises the contribution which the AEC initiative can make to supporting the regional growth objectives of the NPF.
Minister Ring established the Atlantic Economic Corridor Taskforce in March 2017 to oversee and progress the initiative. I now chair the Taskforce which meets every quarter, with the most recent meeting taking place yesterday, 10th December.
Three subgroups have been established to support the work of the Taskforce, focusing on the issues of infrastructure, enterprise space and communications and marketing. Work programmes have been developed for each of these subgroups.
My Department also provides co-funding for a dedicated AEC Officer in each of the Local Authorities along the Corridor. This AEC Officer network provides a resource to support the work of the AEC Taskforce, and to promote the AEC concept across the region as a whole.
Over the last few weeks, projects based in the AEC area were approved for funding of €50 million from three Government funds - the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund, and the Regional Enterprise Development Fund. This investment, along with other infrastructural investments under the National Development Plan, will support the objectives of the AEC initiative to attract jobs and investment to the region.