Minister also discusses plans for €10 million regeneration project in Ballybofey-Stranorlar
County-wide public access wifi initiative launched
Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, has today (Friday 17th September) officially opened the new DigiHub at The BASE Enterprise Centre in Stranorlar.
The DigiHub, which received funding through the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund and the Connected Hubs Fund, was developed by the Western Development Commission in partnership with Donegal County Council and local social enterprise, BASICC.
It is also the latest Hub to receive free SIRO powered one Gigabit broadband connection, provided by Vodafone.
It has a range of options available for remote workers, start-ups and established businesses with hot desk and start-up space on flexible arrangements, office units of various sizes, training facilities, and a range of meeting rooms.
The development of digital hubs in rural areas is a key goal of ‘Our Rural Future’ the Government’s new rural development strategy, which aims to revitalise towns and villages, promote remote working, and ensure balanced regional development.
Speaking at the opening of the DigiHub, Minister Humphreys said:
“This fine facility is one of four digital hubs along the Western Seaboard that received almost €650,000 under my Department’s Rural Regeneration Development Fund.
“All four of these hubs are members of the Connected Hubs initiative, which is the Department’s platform of mapping together all of the hubs across the country so that they belong to one single network.
“The Connected Hubs Network continues to grow with 140 hubs now active members with this number growing every single week.
“To support the continued development of this network, I recently announced over €8.5 million euro in funding through the Connected Hubs fund.
“And I was delighted to see €67,000 of this funding awarded to this facility in Stranorlar to support further expansion later this year.”
Western Development Commission CEO, Tomás Ó Síocháin commented:
“The Base is a focal point and a driver for economic and community development in Stranorlar.
“As part of the national connectedhubs.ie network, The Base offers remote workers cutting edge facilities and excellent connectivity on their doorstep, the opportunity to both build a career in the northwest and improve their quality of life.”
While in Stranorlar, the Minister visited the site of the old Ritz Cinema to inspect plans for a large-scale regeneration project.
Speaking about the project the Minister said:
“I am delighted that my Department will invest nearly €9 million in this project through the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund.
“This along with additional funding from Donegal County Council, will deliver a new enterprise centre and a multi-functional civic space which will breathe new life into the town and surrounding area.
“The Government is committed to supporting large-scale regeneration projects such as this, particularly through the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund which has approved over €30 million for projects in Donegal alone.”
The Minister then went on to Balor Theatre, Main Street, Ballybofey where she launched Donegal’s WiFi4EU initiative.
The initiative promotes free access to Wi-Fi connectivity for citizens in public spaces including parks, squares, public buildings, libraries, health centres and museums in municipalities throughout Europe.
There are now 75 free wifi access points across 56 towns and villages throughout the county.
Notes to editor:
The Digihub at the Base is a part of the Digiwest hub project being delivered by the WDC in partnership with the local authorities in Donegal, Sligo, and Mayo.
The Network includes three other hubs in Tulsk, Swinford, (launched earlier this year) and Tubbercurry. All of these hubs are members of Connected Hubs, the National Hubs Network.
Rural Regeneration & Development Fund
The funding from the RRDF is provided to further the aims of Our Rural Future, which highlighted the need to build strongly on existing investment and to strive for even greater ambition to achieve significant and rapid progress on the objective of balanced regional development.
In total the Fund has now provided over €249m for 164 projects across Ireland, worth a total of €338m.
RRDF funding of €30,496,043 has been approved for 13 projects costing €36,882,058 located in County Donegal.
The initiative provides each Local Authority with the opportunity to competitively apply for up to 4 vouchers to the value €15,000 each. The vouchers are to be used to install Wi-Fi equipment in public spaces within the municipality that are not already equipped with a free Wi-Fi hotspot.
These locations need to be ‘centres of public life’ where no other free Wi-Fi service is already available. The service will be free of charge, free of advertising and free from commercial re-use of data.
The voucher may serve to purchase new equipment or upgrade old material and replace it with the most recent and best available equipment on the market.
To ensure that we all get the most from this initiative DRCD committed to provide matched funding of €15,000 for every voucher awarded to Ireland by the EU, doubling the value of the investment.
Donegal County Council successfully claimed four vouchers WiFi4EU vouchers. DRCD supplied matched funding of €60,000 and Donegal County Council also provided a further €30,000 towards the costs.