A new digital hub – and a first for rural Ireland – is opening in Skibbereen in Cork. It is hoped that the hub will create 2,000 jobs and add €37.5m to the local economy.
The Ludgate Hub is located in the town’s old cinema and will officially open in July. However, it is already operational with 30 people currently working on site. These include Irish migrants to Europe and the USA who have returned home to work, as well as foreign businesses.
The project was set in motion by John Field, who donated the building, and Leonard Donnelly, former chairman of Dublin’s Digital Hub. Ludgate team members include RTÉ’s new director general Dee Forbes, and Vodafone CEO Anne O’Leary.
“The town and every building will have one-gigabyte connectivity which puts it on a par well beyond Tokyo, well beyond Seoul in Korea, we are on a level-playing field with Shanghai,” Donnelly told the Irish Examiner.
“The five-year plan at a high level, has the objective to create 2,000 jobs and to increase the local economy in Skibbereen and west, west Cork by €37.5m annually,” he said.
Individual businesses can rent a desk in the Ludgate Hub there from €15 per day. This will give them access to super-fast fibre optic broadband, printing facilities, meeting rooms and a canteen.
“The hub will be formally opened on July 29, but of the 80 places that we have to fill, there are already 30 people in there and there will be another 50 very, very fast. By October that building will be completely filled,” Donnelly explained. “We’re already looking at Ludgate two and three.”
Donnelly, originally from the area, said the project had deep personal connections from those involved.
“I’m from Skibbereen. It’s a combination of a very deep recession which has been worse in rural areas, with an awful lot of young people away, the fact that we’re of a certain age and we have more time. We are all connected with the area, we all have kids, it was from the heart,” he said.