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Chinese lanterns light up Chamber initiative

Members of the Ennis Development Forum release Chinese  lanterns to launch Create The  Magic, an initiative that aims to make Clare Ireland’s friendliest county. Photograph Declan Monaghan
THE combined force of the Ennis Development Forum and Ennis Chamber are continuing in their bid to bring some light to the town in the midst of the recession with the launch of their Create the Magic campaign.
The customer service-based initiative was launched with a release of Chinese lanterns this week. The aim of the initiative is to inspire local businesses to enhance their customer service in the hope that Clare will become ‘Ireland’s Friendliest County’, attracting more business and tourists to the town.
The two groups have come together to try and encourage more business, jobs and tourism to both Ennis and the county. As reported in The Clare Champion last month, there are currently 70 vacant shop units in Ennis and both organisations believe a joined-up, positive approach is needed to create further opportunities.
Aoife Madden of the Development Forum said, “We want to be the first town in Ireland to get out of this recession and this Create the Magic initiative is just one of the ways we are trying to achieve that.
“A forum will take place this Thursday from 6.15pm to 7.30pm in the Old Ground Hotel and speaking will be Kathleen Sullivan, whose company, KT Sullivan and Associates, focuses on customer service excellence. She lives and works in Charleston, South Carolina and Ennis and Charleston was voted America’s Friendliest City in 2010. It’s fantastic to have her expertise on board.”
During this hour-long forum, Ms Sullivan will provide insights and suggestions on creating a service-focused business community based on her work and life experience in the US, Ireland and Europe. This will be followed by an open discussion from the floor on how best to take this initiative forward for the benefit of Ennis and Clare.
All businesses in the county are welcome to attend and bring along their staff. Those attending are asked to make a small contribution at the door. For queries, contact Ennis Chamber on 065 6842988.
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that both the development forum and the chamber have secured a meeting with the four newly elected Clare TDs on March 28.
This meeting was signed up to by all General Election candidates who were present at the business forum entitled Save Our Jobs in Ennis and Clare organised by the Ennis Development Forum and Ennis Chamber in February in the Temple Gate Hotel.
The business forum was attended by over 250 local businesses, employing approximately 1,500 people. As well as hearing addresses from the General Election candidates present, those who attended also listened to the views and points put forward by 10 business representatives on behalf of Ennis Development Forum and Ennis Chamber.
The audience then had an opportunity to air their own views by raising issues and proposing solutions with responses from the candidates. Issues raised at local and national level included job creation, the cost of doing business, the national debt, public sector costs, Shannon Airport and parking in Ennis.
Some of the solutions that were put forward included further development in tourism through the Clare diaspora; the promotion of Celtic Clare and the increasing of routes into Shannon; cutting the bureaucracy and red tape for businesses; a six-month moratorium on commercial rates and afterwards charging as a percentage of turnover or VAT; green energy and clean technology initiatives; PRSI rebate for new employees for two years; support signage for Ennis; free parking at certain times in the town; increased parking and coach parking.
Since the event, the ‘Ennis Jobs’ Facebook page has grown to over 1,000 friends and businesses with photographs of 100 business owners outside their premises supporting the campaign.

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