Vast China trade hub to go ahead
The first phase of a massive 337-acre international China trade hub in the Irish midlands has been given the go-ahead by the Republic's planning authority.
Bigger than Dublin's Liffey Valley and Blanchardstown shopping centres put together, the overall exhibition centre is reckoned to be the largest development built in Ireland.
The €175m (£143m) first phase of the Europe China Trading Hub at Creggan, near Athlone, will be a base for Chinese companies to promote trade and commerce with Europe and the rest of the world.
The site will employ 1,530 people after an initial boost of 1,200 construction jobs.
Athlone Business Park Ltd, the company behind the scheme, believes it will attract 1,750 visitors every day.
It claims that the facility - which will also have a special Irish division to promote domestic business - would end the need for US east coast business leaders to go through time-consuming visa applications and travel plans to get into China to see factories and products and place orders.