South Dublin Chamber Awards: From a business perspective Covid-19 has driven change

Over the past four years The South Dublin Chamber Business Awards have been celebrating the vibrant and successful business community in our county. Despite the business awards not taking place this year, South Dublin Chamber wanted to continue celebrating our local business community. Through an Echo feature, the chamber looked back over recent years, revisiting previous awards and recognising the many businesses that were winners. 

By Maurice Garvey

2020 has had a devastating effect on some businesses due to lockdowns and restrictions, but in terms of silver linings, it has accelerated digital developments, while simultaneously easing traffic congestion.

This is a view shared by new South Dublin Chamber President Eamonn Egan, who believes this is the time to grasp new opportunities.

Eamonn Egan new 1

South Dublin Chamber President Eamonn Egan is optimistic about the future

“One thing that is going to change is we are never going back to setting off at 6.30am and coming home at 9pm, if all you have to do is press a keyboard,” said Mr Egan.

“Covid has not been completely negative. It has driven some change that wouldn’t have been considered before, the need to upskill, to learn something new.”

With over 40 years experience in the insurance industry, time wasn’t on Egan’s side pre-Covid, so much so that he swapped the car for a motorbike, shaving over 2 hours off his daily commute, from rural Kildare to Baggot Street.

“Before 2007 I was spending five hours a day in the car. The kids were asleep when I was leaving the house and asleep when I got home.”

Remote working has had a positive impact on the roads, and Egan sees “savings in terms of carbon” that are beneficial for society.

This was one of the key elements of a joint sustainable recovery plan released last week between South Dublin and Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Chambers.

A key aim is greater investment in affordable housing, social and human orientated infrastructure and transport - linking local town centres with nearby regions in the country and €3.3bn in investment.

Together, the two regions account for over half a million people, or 10 per cent of the State’s population.

“€3.3bn is ambitious but from the net contributions by the two counties, it is fair. We need to get people around quicker. It cannot be right that it takes less time to drive from Dublin to Athlone than it does to take public transport from Lucan to Loughlinstown.

“We have got to fix that and keep people like me who push keyboards off the road.”

While acknowledging the existing transport links in the county, Egan believes greater connectivity is going to be a crucial next step for South Dublin, citing the outer link road that runs from Jobstown House to the former Foxhunter Pub.

“South Dublin County Council has a population of 291,456 people, all of them live in the area. Many work there and many commute out. This is six per cent of the national population.”

Egan (57) is however, optimistic about the future.

“If the vaccine works, we will all be back on track and, in March, it will be like letting cattle back out. I call this house jail. People miss the interaction with other people.

“But I do think that the world will change for the better. Construction work has continued which is vital and we have a great opportunity.”

Usually at this time of the year, the Chamber would be hosting it’s annual Business Awards in Citywest Hotel.

“I was blown away with the previous awards,” said Egan. “The amazing thing about South Dublin Chamber is the diversity, where a SME member is next to someone who runs a shopping centre.

We could all do with a blow out but not just yet. It is tricky to keep everyone connected but we need to find a way and virtual calls have been fantastic.

This time last year, that type of digital connectivity wasn’t there. That technology is just going to get better and better.”

In our FREE to view business section we take a look back over the last four years of the South Dublin County Business Awards: HERE.

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