Monaghan - the perfect post-Brexit business base
With its convenient setting, a host of cost-effective business space and an indigenous corporate landscape rivalled by no other Irish county, Monaghan is being dubbed as the perfect ‘post-Brexit’ base for investors.
When Monaghan firm, Combilift, opened Ireland’s largest single-site factory last week, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar travelled up for the occasion - an endorsement that tells NI investors this county has something unique to offer in a post Brexit world.
Located midway between Ireland’s two largest business hubs, with travelling times of just over one hour from Belfast, and 50 minutes from Dublin, the county provides not only a convenient but a cost effective base from which to do business.
Couple its advantageous location with an already thriving business community that spans agri food to retail and e-commerce, with a network of business support firmly in place, and it’s understandable why the location is savouring its moment in the spotlight as prime estate after our exit from the EU.
Monaghan is also is one of few hubs in Ireland to have a high density of native investors with six out of ten employers born and bred there.
And those businesses have formed strong links with local education providers to address skills gaps and ensure a robust talent pool for future generations and investors to come.
Among its top corporate residents it counts Monaghan Mushrooms, Combilift, Cloud10beauty.com, Mullan Lighting, Silver Hill Food, Agro Merchants Group, Kerry Foods and Celtic Pure.
Speaking about the benefits of investing in a Monaghan address, Eamonn O’Sullivan, chief executive of Monaghan County Council said:
Monaghan's location, within easy reach of Belfast and Dublin International Airports with good road access to the major ports, provides businesses with direct access to the EU and UK markets. When combined with lower costs of business set ups and the supportive ethos in the county, this makes Monaghan a very attractive proposition for new business investments.
Garry Quinn of Belfast firm Go Power Energy is one investor who has realised the benefits of setting up shop in Monaghan. He opened an office in Carrickmacross two years ago.
He said: “We opened a base in Monaghan because we started to trade in the Republic of Ireland. For us it was about opening doors and creating employment in the area.
“We found that doing business in the Republic and being based elsewhere than the usual cities proved successful for us because we are customer focused and people liked the fact we were based locally.
Mr Quinn, who has since opened other bases in ROI, said Monaghan’s close proximity to other counties also proved beneficial.
And Mullan Lighting, a firm set up in 2008 within an historic former shoe factory that has Monaghan’s rich business heritage at the heart of its makeup, has seen business soar from its base there.
Edel Treanor, marketing director at the firm, says location is everything when it comes to business success.
“Manufacturing our products in a remote rural village in Co. Monaghan is part of the Mullan Lighting brand itself. From the old shoe mill in Mullan village we manufacture and sell our products to 55 countries worldwide. It’s a story that our customers across Europe and the Middle East still find fascinating.
“We’re very accessible when customers come to visit us from abroad. We often take customers to sample the local food and drink in Glaslough village or Monaghan town - which is becoming known a food destination.”
Ms Treanor adds that straddling the border has benefits for those who want to operate effectively post-Brexit.
“In our case we’re less than a stone’s throw from the border with county Armagh. Should courier charges and customs clearance delays for delivery to the United Kingdom raise significantly post-Brexit - where about 20% of our exports go - we’re in a position to warehouse and ship goods bound for this market within a few miles of our current premises in county Monaghan. So we benefit from having untethered access to the European Single Market while also benefiting from potentially lower shipping rates and lower shipping times into the United Kingdom. This is all still up in the air though for the time-being.”
And Mallon Foods, an employer of 120 staff members, has reinforced its faith in the business acumen of Monaghan by seeking planning permission for a two-storey extension to boost its production in Hilden, on the outskirts of the town.
It makes sense to stay put in a location where office space is competitively priced - one third of the cost of commercial property in Dublin.
A mix of setups are available to those seeking a foothold in the EU. These include state-of-the-art industrial units to multi-use conference venues and hot-desking space with flexible rental terms.
Purpose-built enterprise, technology and business parks in Monaghan Town, Carrickmacross, Clones, Ballybay and Emyvale further accommodate businesses of various sizes in high-spec, self-contained units, and are equipped with high-speed broadband, shared kitchen facilities and ample parking.
For food start-ups, cutting-edge incubator kitchen facilities at the Ballybay Enterprise Park sets the scene and Enterprising Monaghan, a non-profit organisation with an aim to boost corporate activity in the area, recently secured a €200k grant from Enterprise Ireland to develop the existing facility into a Regional Food Centre of Excellence.
And the 62-acre Lough Egish Food Park in Ballybay is a hub for agri-food producers including Lakeland Dairies, Glanbia, Rangeland Foods, Golden Irish and Swift Fine Foods, as well as construction and logistics specialists.
Investment in business space sits alongside the county’s proactive approach to supporting newcomers and existing players with Monaghan County Council and Local Enterprise Office offering training courses, mentoring and grant advice/support to ensure any outside investment in the county is rewarded.
Find out more about locating your business in County Monaghan at monaghanbusiness.com