Urban Evolution: New Chamber President Focuses on Welcoming and Vibrant Urban Spaces

-Cork Chamber of Commerce Welcomes New President Rob Horgan at 2024 AGM-

Cork Chamber, the voice of business in Cork, has today announced Rob Horgan, entrepreneur and owner of Velo Coffee, as its new President, marking another milestone in the Chamber's history. At the 205th Annual General Meeting held at the Imperial Hotel Cork, Mr Horgan outlined his vision and commitment to furthering Cork's economic and social prosperity.
Mr Horgan articulated a forward-thinking vision for Cork, emphasising a dynamic, innovative, and inclusive city region. "Cork Chamber sets out a firm, ambitious, and determined vision for an invigorating and smart city region. One that is relentlessly progressive, yet regenerative, authentic, and expressive," he said. Highlighting Cork's unique blend of reliability and innovation, Horgan emphasised the Chamber's role in fostering a robust business environment.

Reflecting on his personal connection to Cork, the new Chamber President, Rob Horgan shared, "I grew up not far from here, on the outskirts of the city. What was then a rural, sparsely populated patch, is now an established suburb and part of the bustling metropolitan area. This city has been my playground, my school ground, my workplace, my homeplace." He lauded Cork's evolution into a bustling metropolitan area and its international reputation as a place for business. “Cork deserves its place as one of Europe’s top city regions. As an international hub for business, giving Ireland a second city that punches well above its weight.  Cork City generates the highest revenue per person in Ireland. Cork boasts strong business clusters across ICT, pharma, cyber security, renewable energy, financial and professional services, maritime and agri-food. Our universities and colleges of further education have over 40,000 students and 10,000 graduates annually combined. With our pro-business environment, it is no wonder that Cork was ranked No 1 small European city for FDI strategy in the Financial Times European Cities and Regions of the Future.”

Mr Horgan identified critical challenges that must be addressed to support the business community, particularly in housing and urban development. "Delivery of housing remains a challenge. And while we are seeing some developments come on stream, and these will have the most impact on housing number, we must remain focused on delivery to ensure our economy can continue to grow. With the population of Cork set to grow significantly, we need to see a pace of housing delivery not witnessed before," he asserted. He called for creative solutions to rejuvenate vacant properties and transform urban spaces. “The renovations that are most needed are those to our thinking if we are to deliver this. Instead of listing the barriers, we need lists of solutions. [..] We simply must find creative resolutions to the issues that are rendering so much real estate vacant and falling into disrepair.”

Further commenting on the urban environment, Mr Horgan said "The city centre needs to be a welcoming place where everybody feels safe. There is no doubt that we need greater resourcing for our Gardaí to support our communities. This resource needs to be a publicly visible Garda presence, not a quoted number. "

 He also highlighted the importance of Cork's multicultural fabric, saying, “We now live in a multicultural city. This brings a wealth of opportunities to our doorstep; inspiring creativity, innovation and economic growth. By opening our arms to different cultures, we invite new perspectives, ideas, and importantly skills, which fuel entrepreneurship and drive business growth."

The availability of a skilled workforce is high on the agenda for the business community as a core economic enabler. “Continued investment in higher and further education, and expansion of apprenticeship programmes is necessary to support our international competitiveness. We must also better support that same pool of employees through the provision of a more accessible, better functioning, and affordable childcare. If we are to retain talent, we must ensure they have real choices when considering their participation in the workplace. It is simply unacceptable that lack of childcare is holding back parents from reaching their full potential.”

Horgan outlined ambitious plans for Cork's transport and energy systems, aiming to reduce car dependency and promote sustainability. "Transforming our energy and transport systems will be key drivers in decarbonising our economy and supporting the journey to climate neutrality," he explained.

With upcoming local and European elections, Mr Horgan urged the business community to actively engage with candidates on key issues. " I urge each and every one of you to use your votes wisely. The candidates we elect will be entrusted with the responsibility of shaping the social and economic landscape of Cork for the next five years. I ask you to engage these candidates on the issues that are affecting your business. Your business is a valuable contributor to our local economy and it is in all our interests that our elected representatives are as ambitious for Cork as we are.”

Mr Horgan thanked the outgoing president, Ronan Murray for his contributions to Cork Chamber and the region’s business community, along with outgoing board members Thia Hennessy, CUBS UCC (Honorary Secretary), Gerard O'Donovan MTU (Honorary Treasurer), Maxine Hyde, Ballymaloe Foods and Debbie Power Future Planet.

New board members were announced, Dr Jean Van Sinderen-Law, UCC, Conor O Toole, Clayton Hotel Cork City, Carmel Lonergan, Trigon Hotels, Garrett O’Keeffe, Solarwinds, Gillian Bergin, Dell Technologies. Susie Horgan, Springboard Communications was appointed Honorary Secretary and Michael Nolan, Grant Thornton was appointed Honorary Treasurer.

Expressing pride in his new role, Mr Horgan shared his family's long-standing involvement with the Chamber. "I am the third generation of the Horgan family who are active members of Cork Chamber of Commerce," he said. He pledged to work diligently with the Chamber team and members to ensure Cork's continued prosperity.

Speech in Full: Full speech by Rob Horgan can be read <HERE>.