Thousands of jobs could be created at a Chinese Hub, which would showcase Chinese goods at a major development on the outskirts of Athlone. The development was granted planning permission by An Bord Pleanala on Tuesday and the promoters say that they will provide €200 million for the first phase of the development alone.
However it is not certain that the development will go ahead as there will be competition from other countries, such as Belgium and the UK. If the Athlone bid is successful it is envisaged that 1,200 jobs would be provided during construction alone and up to 2,500 jobs would be provided when the first phase of the project is up and running.
The site is 127 hectares at Creggan, just outside the town of Athlone. The Chief Executive of the project is former Roscommon County Manager John Tiernan who says that the granting of planning permission is a major step forward for the project.
The developers plan to construct 12 exhibition halls on a 100,000 square metre site. The halls would be used by Chinese companies hoping to sell various products to markets in the European Union, the USA, North Africa and the Middle East. There are plans for two huge exhibition halls of over 30,000 square metres each.
It is thought that there will also be a link up with the local Athlone Institute of Technology as staff with Chinese language skills and other specialised skills will also be required. It is planned that workers with skills in banking, accounting, legal services, management, catering and many more areas will be required once the project gets up and running.
It is also planned that there will be two five-star hotels, a cinema, a golf course, a primary school, apartments and a major China Tower which will be 90 metres in height. A total of 37 planning conditions have been attached to the planning permission which was sought by a company called Athlone Business Park Ltd.
This week’s news has been welcomed by the local Chamber of Commerce in Athlone and by the local community in general. Local Cllr. Laurence Fallon has given a broad welcome to the news.
“This project has the potential for major development and the potential to create a large number of jobs not alone in the construction phase but also later in servicing the site and also in those industries that will supply and service the hub,” stated Cllr. Fallon.
“This is very welcome news and has the potential to put Athlone firmly on the map as a place where business can be done and a place with good access,” added Cllr. Fallon.