The Western Development Commission – the body that promotes the social and economic development of the Western region – is publishing its five year strategy today.

A range of structured supports are to be made available to companies and businesses operating, or hoping to set up, in the region.

Tomás Ó Síocháin, CEO of the WDC, said the strategy builds on two decades of experience around investment in the region.

"It's notable now that the shift towards the regions is a reality. If you look at the Chambers and how they have come together to form the City Regions Group. Ireland 2040 has established the Atlantic Economic Corridor, building on the work of the WDC over 20 years."

He said the move was being underpinned by greater investment in the region.

"We were originally – under statute – given €32 million to invest where there was market failure as venture capital. It's not grant aid, but it's to work with companies to help them grow.

"Through the management and the work of the investment team, that has grown to €72 million. That's given us €50 million to invest in companies and lend to communities. We're going to take a 10 year view and identify one or two sectors where we make a difference in the Western region."

Much of the development of the commercial landscape in the West will hinge on the availability of broadband in the region and the rollout of the long-awaited National Broadband Plan.

"What we can do is to address the issues of access. For those who don't have access at home, we can identify, at a reasonable cost, a hub where they can get access. It also means that those working abroad are in a position to see that there is fibre enabled broadband and that they can have the same working conditions that they are currently used to," Mr Ó Síocháin explained.

"They can see that they can move West, take advantage of the better quality of life and join us in making a dramatic change in the future of the West."

The strategy will also see the investment of €1 million from the Dormant Accounts Fund in the process of linking digital hubs from the north to south of the country.

"The fund will help raise the profile of the hubs, the work they do and a build a single online point of access for public, private and community hubs along the Atlantic coast. 

"It will also help Centre Managers to grow the business, learn from each other, offer clear routes to further supports and, in the longer term, build a pipeline of innovation in communities."