Limerick’s rising status as one of Ireland’s most attractive locations to live, work, learn, do business in and visit has been advanced by its second economic monitor, which shows that 2019 was another major year of progress for the city and county. The Limerick Economic Monitor (LEM) involves the analysis of Limerick’s economic and fiscal status annually by EY-DKM Economic Advisory.
The LEM provides a barometer across a number of key economic indicators, including employment, enterprise, investment, housing, consumer sentiment, and commercial property. The LEM was launched in 2019 and Limerick is the only city, other than Dublin, producing the performance indicator report.
The 2019 economic monitor published today has revealed that 2,450 jobs were created during the year, with live register figures down by 18% in the 12 months and are now the second lowest in the country after Dublin (seasonally unadjusted). In total across the decade, there was a 68% drop in live register from January 2010 to November 2019, illustrating the dramatic economic resurgence taking hold in Limerick.
Data for 2019 indicates that FDI investment in the first nine months had already matched the level for the whole of 2018. FDI investment announcements included commitments from Johnson & Johnson, Regeneron, Edwards Life Sciences, Cook Medical, Northern Trust and Nautilus.
The indigenous labour market also thrived in 2019, with 561 new start-ups. In all, there were approximately 4,500 new company registrations between 2013 and Q3 2019, the LEM finds. Other key figures validating Limerick’s status as one of Ireland’s leading locations to live and work in was that disposable income was €21,979 – the highest outside the capital. Some other notable milestones achieved in 2019 included securing the Ryder Cup for Adare Manor, the LEM states.
The report held that affordability remains a major competitive advantage for Limerick when it comes to attracting and retaining talent and investment. In addition to high disposable income, another key aspect is the relatively lower housing costs in Limerick, with median growing by almost 18% in the year to September 2019, yet they remain 18% lower than the national median. Likewise, rent levels were up 6% but remain 15% below the national average. Rents in Limerick county, while also rising, are almost 35% below the national average.
Welcoming the Limerick Economic Monitor, Mayor of the City and County of Limerick Cllr Michael Sheahan said that the report is both positive and timely. “We had a fantastic launch of our new brand position, a brand that will promote Limerick both domestically and internationally for inward investment across tourism, business and education. To have the economic monitor come out with such positive findings a week or so later reaffirms why Limerick has such reason for confidence.”
The LEM was also positive regarding housing prospects, citing the recently submitted plans for a €60 million redevelopment of the Horizon Mall site which could see an additional 245 residential units added to the stock. When plans for developments at Canal Bank Limerick, Castletroy and Mungret are taken into account, there is potential for an additional 1,000 plus residential units to be added to the stock over the coming years, the report reads.
The local authority is also making strides in public housing development with €12.1 million worth of housing currently on site across Limerick, it added. 2019 was also marked by the first major build under Limerick Twenty Thirty programme, Gardens International, being completed and opened. The Opera Centre development has also progressed through planning in 2019 and a decision imminent early this year.
Said Vincent Murray, Director of Economic Development at Limerick City and County Council: “This latest LEM reflects the continued progress of our city and county. 2019 has seen many significant milestones occur for Limerick as we continue our ambitious plans to develop into the future. The statistics speak for themselves. Limerick is very much on an upward curve. It’s a dynamic city and county with a vibrant population.”
The report found that a strong focus for the Council in 2020 is to tackle both urban and rural dereliction and a major refurbishment plan will see c. 5,500 homes upgraded, it continues. Revitalising the city centre is also a key priority for it and it has established a group to address underperformance in the city centre.
From a private investment perspective, the report also points to the planned €60 million redevelopment of the Arthur’s Quay retail complex, announced in July, which is set to be the largest ever private mixed-use development in the county. Added to this, UL’s plans for a city centre campus at the former Dunnes Stores site and the €180 million Opera site development shows it’s a city centre on the rise.
Ultimately, the outlook is positive, the LEM held. The range of city centre developments and the growing workforce of local and global firms is driving the momentum of Limerick’s resurgence, and its capacity to act as a counterbalance to Dublin. Looking to Brexit, it found that Limerick’s diversified economic base and the benefits of Shannon-Foynes Port and Shannon Airport should help to mitigate impacts in the region.
David McNamara, Director with EY-DKM Economic Advisory said: “One year on, our second LEM shows that momentum continues to build in Limerick. It’s a city most definitely on the up and the LEM shows strong growth across a diverse range of indicators – from the economy to quality of life measures. There are many reasons to be positive about the future. The University of Limerick’s multi-million-euro investment plan for a city-centre campus, the re-development of O’Connell Street and the increasing workforce of global firms will help to improve the city centre and facilitate its resurgence.
“With relatively lower housing costs and high disposable income, Limerick is an attractive alternative to Dublin, with affordability a major competitive advantage.”
The Limerick Economic Monitor can be found here on Limerick.ie.