As we approach the end of 2021, the Economic Development Unit of Donegal County Council looks back in a year like no other and the work carried out by the team throughout 2021. Our ‘Year in Review’ video aims to do exactly that!
2021 brought many challenges and opportunities as Ireland began its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the key components of the Economic Development unit was to facilitate funding opportunities of Fáilte Ireland’s Outdoor Seating and Accessories Grant which offered businesses funding of up to €4,000 as businesses built the necessary infrastructure as food and drink dining went outdoors as a result of COVID-19. Over 300 grants were processed by the unit this year.
In May of this year, €12.5 million of Failte Ireland funding was also secured for Inishowen’s Fort Dunree. With over 200 initial applications for funding, it was a fantastic achievement to be selected as one of the 4 successful projects to receive funding. Fort Dunree is a place of significant historical importance to the County, built-in 1798 and played a role in two world wars before opening its doors to the general public as a Military museum in 1986. Since then, approximately 100,000 visitors come to Fort Dunree each year to experience the museum, but also the spectacular beauty of the region where it is located. The funding will revolutionise the tourist attraction with Ireland’s first funicular railway planned to reach the sea-level from the complex.
Arguably the main achievement of the unit to date has been the creation of the Donegal place brand which showcases Donegal as #IrelandsDNA and a great place to Live, Work, Invest in, Study and Explore. The place brand has grown online across social media to have a following of over 9,000, with 22,000 users across the website with visitors coming from 97 countries. We featured over 20 individuals, businesses and organisations in Donegal who helped to tell the story of our place brand and also received buy-in from influencers across the county who supported the launch and appeared in our videos and features. Going forward there are big plans next year to evolve the place brand further.
The brandings social accounts have also become the home of the #LoveDonegal and #BuyDonegal campaigns. This year’s #LoveDonegal day reached 17.1 million across social media with over 15,000 posts across the day, you all ensured the hashtag was trending throughout the day. #BuyDonegal has also grown this year with a website update and over 300 businesses signing up for this years’ campaign.
Elsewhere, the unit was responsible for developing Donegal County Council’s Remote Working Strategy for Business, becoming the first local authority in Ireland to introduce such a strategy. An official webinar took place in June where remote workers in Donegal gave their insights and perspectives on why they decided to make the move to the county and outlined the benefits surrounding their moves.
The Tourism unit, in conjunction with Fáilte Ireland, launched a digital #KeepDiscoveringDonegal brochure in July with sustainability and the environment in mind. The brochure was available through scanning a QR code and is also hosted on “Go Visit Donegal’s” website. You can check out the brochure here.
For a full list of work that the Economic Development has carried out this year, check out our video below.