Minister Martin Heydon turns the sod at the site of the Kerry Food Hub Innovation Centre
23rd July, 2021
Kerry Food Hub announces extensive expansion of existing premises creating 162 jobs for the local area
Minister of State with responsibility for Research & Development, Farm Safety and New Market Development, Martin Heydon TD today initiated the extensive expansion of the food innovation centre, The Kerry Food Hub, located in Firies, County Kerry. Through significant Enterprise Ireland investment, the centre will grow from four 1,000sq ft units employing 35 people to 14, 1,000sq ft units, delivering 100 direct and a further 62 indirect local jobs. All of which will contribute to an estimated €9 million in new income to the Kerry economy over the next three years.
The Kerry based not-for-profit community project was the vision of local farmer David Gleeson. He founded a group of local social based entrepreneurs with the aim to enhance employment opportunities in the region and make the community it serves a “better place to live”.
The Kerry Food Hub has purpose-built food production units provide start-up entrepreneurs and small but growth-oriented food businesses the opportunity to expand and develop at a rate that would be far more difficult to achieve without easy access to a dedicated and high-quality food-production facilities.
The expansion of the Kerry Food Hub and the launch of a tailored online B2B Artisan Marketplace connecting hospitality providers with local Artisan producers simplifies the process of buying Hero Foods OR "Food with a story”. The platform aligns, and directly responds to an identified tourism industry need - specifically the need to showcase local ‘hero’ foods to visitors.
Martin Heydon T.D., Minister of State with special responsibility for Research and Development, Farm Safety and New Market Development at the Department of Agriculture, commented that, “Today is yet another notable milestone as we move to a robust re-localised focus on food and the agriculture supply chain. Digital transformation reshapes the market relationship by creating new bridges between independent local artisan food producers and buyers. I am confident the combination of dedicated food-grade production space and the B2B eCommerce Marketplace will inspire opportunities and develop the next generation of producers in the region, delivering national impacts for the sector.”
Leo Clancy, CEO, Enterprise Ireland said: “Supporting regional entrepreneurship is a key priority for Enterprise Ireland and the Regional Enterprise Development Fund is an effective mechanism of supporting regional development. Following a rigorous evaluation process, we were delighted to support the expansion and development of the Kerry Food Hub which aims to encourage and develop entrepreneurial food production talent by providing operationally independent state-of-the art production units, from which start-ups can operate. We see this as a launch pad for innovative indigenous artisan food companies, allowing them to lay the foundations for a successful business with the aim of scaling up and expanding into international markets. Additionally, the development of the Artisan Market on-line platform is a really innovative approach to linking artisan producers with buyers in 4-star and 5-star hotels and restaurants in Killarney, one of the highest tourist footfall locations in the country.”
Speaking on the extensive expansion David Gleeson, Chairman & Founder said: “This major investment in the local economy signifies confidence within the indigenous Artisan industry of Ireland. Nurturing and developing embryonic food production talent to a point where that same talent can move onto bigger and better things is our goal. And to date we consider ourselves highly successful in achieving that goal.”
Without support from Enterprise Ireland this expansion project may not have been realised. In addition, this initiative has been supported by the local community, North East West Kerry Development, Kerry County Council, Kerry Group and Clann Credo. This €2M investment will ensure the hub acts as a key source of employment within a local community that has experienced significant population growth but has lacked economic development.”
“The Kerry Food Hub was established in 2016 and has had enjoyed 100% uninterrupted occupancy since opening. While the activities over the past number years have worked as a very successful proof of concept, the future is extremely bright. Through the extensive expansion of the existing premises and the development of the B2B Artisan Marketplace, the board of local volunteers will aim to achieve their goal of encouraging and supporting local culinary talent.”
About The Kerry Food Hub
The Kerry Food Hub was the concept of local farmer David Gleeson. David was inspired whilst on a farm tour to Netherlands, where he saw a similar operation in place. In 2016 after relentless attempts to secure funding David and the board of local volunteers realised their vision to support and drive local artisan businesses.
The premises have been designed to blend into the local environment of Firies and was purpose built on a greenfield site just outside the village. This location has been ideal for occupants as it allows ease of access to Killarney and Tralee, from which they can serve their hospitality & retail customer base.
The aim was to encourage and develop entrepreneurial food production talent in the local area by providing operationally independent food grade production units of 1,000 ft2 each, from which start-ups or small growth-oriented companies could operate.
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