Inner View: Crafting Cleveland to Cork, with Cork Chamber’s Cathal McSweeney
By John O’Brien, Jr.
Cork Chamber of Commerce’s International Relations Manager Cathal McSweeney spoke with us during the Irish Network USA’s National Convention in Cleveland October 20-22. We wanted to discuss relationship building, the future of Irish business in Ireland, and in the U.S. too. Irish companies employ more than 100,000 people in the United States. Immigrants are 17% of the U.S. workforce.
We have been involved in [Irish Network USA] IN for many years. Our goal here is to connect and to engage with the Diaspora and showcase Cork’s story for business and economic development. Cork is definitely a city on the rise, in so many areas, including Life Sciences, Technology, Cybersecurity, Global Business Services; International Financial Services, Marine & Energy and Agri-food.
“Connecting Cork and Cork Chamber has a strong relationship with Irish Network USA and have sponsored the conference for many years. Irish Network USA offers us the opportunity to reach out to a strong Irish business community right across the USA and a diaspora with a close relationship to Ireland. This allows us to tell the great story Cork has to offer about our thriving business community and quality of life while building business connections throughout the U.S.
“Our vision is to be a world-leading Chamber of Commerce, delivering on a progressive, economic, social and sustainability agenda at the heart of a vibrant business community. Dynamic, Inspiring, Responsible, and Purposeful are the core values that define our operations and will enable us to best represent almost 1,200 members.
“Cork Chamber of Commerce has been a champion for the business community and a strong advocate for the economic development of the Cork region for over 200 years. With our members as our motivation, we champion Cork as a globally recognized place for business, innovation and quality of life. Working together we empower and support a successful and inclusive membership who drive a thriving Cork.
“Founded in 1819, Cork Chamber is one of Ireland’s largest and longest established Chambers and is the nation’s No.1 regional lobby group. Supporting sustainable development in the region, Cork Chamber is championing the UN Sustainable Development Goals, through which the Chamber priorities and activities are framed.
“Connecting Cork is a Cork Chamber-led initiative to expand and develop our international relationships and to promote Cork for business, investment, talent and collaboration. Connecting Cork engages with members of the Irish business community and diaspora overseas while promoting Cork to a targeted international audience.
“Cork is Ireland’s 2nd largest centre of population, with nearly 600k people living in the region (581,231, 2022 Census). Cork is targeted as Ireland’s fastest growing city region with population set to double by 2040. It also has a young population with 50% under 35. It has a strong pipeline of talent, with its two Universities, University College Cork and Munster Technological University, who have a combined 40,000 students and 10,000 graduates per-year.
“Foreign Direct Investment is very important to the economic success of the region. Over 180 foreign investors having decided to locate in Cork, building strong industry clusters and employing over 43,000 people in the region.
While the IDA continues to do very well in attracting investment to Ireland, Connecting Cork looks to complement their work. Cork has a strong business ecosystem and Ranks 2nd overall in Small European Cities of the Future, and No.1 for Economic Potential (FDI Intelligence European Cities and Regions of the Future 2022/23).
“We are always encouraging, representing and supporting. We actively celebrate the vibrancy of our membership. Insight and experience define our strategic goals and daily workflow. We seek to be dynamic and forward thinking, to be purposeful change makers, to be responsible and inspiring. We want to complement efforts by bringing a focus on offshore, renewable energy, on world engagement.
“We have the 2nd largest naval port in the world. By focusing on renewables, focusing on engagement, we showcase Cork, what the business environment is there, and why leaders should consider Cork as a location for their business, or for business expansion. [A light rail system is coming.] Infrastructure is the initial build in process, funds are set aside for train route development – a light rail system by 2040, which will really open the city.
“Our goal is to tell Cork’s story, to make sure people know about our business community, know that it is thriving already. It is important just to connect Cork, to make relationships. We have a talent attraction movement, highlighting why Cork is a great place to live, and work, with great quality of life.
“Cork offers a quality of life that is second to none, as Ireland’s culinary capital and maritime haven with spectacular coastlines and a vibrant nightlife, it has something for everyone.”
The Chamber is based at Fitzgerald House, Summerhill North, Cork. See more at www.corkchamber.ie; on Twitter & Instagram: @CorkChamber; & on