A new innovation hub and Fab Lab in Laois, Ireland, is inspiring locals to build business and stimulate employment throughout the region.
The outgoing cathaoirleach of Laois Co Council, cllr Pádraig Fleming, performed one of his last duties before stepping down from his office when he officially opened the Portarlington Enterprise Centre (PEC) Innovation Hub and Fab Lab.
Cutting the tape on the premises at Canal Road, Portarlington, the cathaoirleach said: “Job creation is key to the development of our towns, villages and rural communities. I am confident that this new Innovation Hub and Fab Lab will help build business and create employment throughout Laois.”
Portarlington Enterprise Centre was originally opened in 2006 through the work of members of Portarlington Community Development Association. Two years ago, the PEC Board, along with enterprise manager Mary Keogh, set out a plan for the development of the centre. Arising from that, the idea of an Innovation Hub and Fab Lab began to take shape.
A steering group consisting of personnel from Laois Co Council, Laois Partnership, the Local Enterprise Office and Portarlington Enterprise Centre employed consultants for the project from Carlow IT.
Funding was secured from Laois Co Council, the Rural Economic Development Zone (REDZ) Fund and the Town and Village Renewal Scheme.
The project has seen a complete re-fit and expansion of a conventional unit to create a state-of-the-art training area, hot-desking space and a well-equipped Fab Lab. The hot-desking facility will provide a professional environment for commuters looking to adopt more flexible working patterns.
Speaking at the official opening, the director of services at Laois Co Council, Kieran Kehoe, said that the huge numbers of people commuting outside the county for work every day now have the option of working full/part-time from the centre. He said that the new innovation hub would align well with the demands of the evolving digital oriented economy and he was confident that it would emulate the success of similar initiatives around the country.