We recently caught up with Lyn Donnelly, the dedicated manager of Ballinasloe Area Community Development (BACD), to learn about the impactful initiatives at the Ballinasloe Enterprise Hub and the value of attending the Interceltic Business Forum.

With a wealth of experience in business and community development, Lyn has been pivotal in driving sustainable employment and investment in Ballinasloe, a vibrant town in central Ireland.

In our conversation, Lyn shares her insights on managing a thriving enterprise hub and the lessons learned from international collaboration.

Tell us about yourself and your role?

My name is Lyn Donnelly, and I have been the full-time manager of Ballinasloe Area Community Development (BACD) since January 2012. I am a qualified Civil Engineer with over 18 years of experience in business and community development. The main objective of (BACD) is to create sustainable employment within the community by promoting enterprise and supporting projects that encourage investment into the Ballinasloe area. ( Ballinasloe is located in the centre of Ireland with an urban population of 6,000 and hinterland of 20,000)

Throughout my tenure with the company, I have overseen various projects ranging from capital work to event management across both enterprise and community sectors. Our flagship project is our 27k sq ft Enterprise Centre which is 100% full and houses 180 employees across 28 different enterprises. Our varied other enterprise and community projects range from business networks, a bi-monthly magazine, experience Ballinasloe tourism weekends, Christmas illuminations, and People of the year awards to name but a few!

The job is so varied with never a dull moment, hence why I’m still here 12 years on. Time has just flown, as no 2 days are ever the same..

Outside my professional role, I am a busy mum of 2 sports crazy girls and can be found rushing from different sports pitches and activities across the country. I am a Dublin Native who now lives in a rural area (approx. 10 miles from Ballinasloe) and want to share the knowledge that you don’t need to live in a high population urban area to work and live. Everything you want and need can be done in Rural Ireland.

What is the Ballinasloe Enterprise Hub?

The Ballinasloe Enterprise Hub, located on Society Street in Ballinasloe, is a cutting-edge remote working digital hub. Acquired by BACD in 2021, this facility was created with the vision of revitalizing the town centre and promoting sustainable economic and financial prosperity within the community. The hub is specifically designed to support startups and growing businesses, providing an environment where they can thrive.

The 6000 sq ft building features 18 private offices, flexible workspaces, hot desks, privacy booths, and meeting rooms, all equipped with high-speed fibre broadband and sustainable energy heating systems catering for up to 45 people. With convenient access to major rail and bus networks, as well as the M6 Motorway, the Ballinasloe Enterprise Hub is an optimal location for new businesses, startups, and remote workers. The establishment of the hub was made possible through grant aid funding from the Just Transition Fund (DEEC) and the Town and Village Renewal Fund (TVRS), along with significant contributions from BACD’s cash reserves and a loan from the Ballinasloe Credit Union.

You attended the Interceltic Business Forum in Lorient last summer, how was it useful for you?

Attending the Interceltic Business Forum in Lorient last summer was highly beneficial for me. Representing BACD, I participated in discussions with representatives from the Western Development Commission about the role of hubs in revitalizing rural communities. The trip included a tour of La Colloc, participation in the Interceltic Business Forum, and a reception with the Irish Ambassador, along with attending the Interceltique Festival.

Visiting La Colloc, in particular, allowed me to draw inspiration and gain practical guidance for our new enterprise hub. Seeing their innovative approach to remote working and community engagement provided valuable insights that I have been able to implement to enhance the Ballinasloe Enterprise Hub.

During the conference, I spoke at a round table discussion about connectedhubs.ie and shared our experiences and projects related to running a community hub in Ballinasloe. This opportunity enabled me to showcase how hubs can significantly impact rural economies. Furthermore, the networking opportunities and connections I made with like-minded individuals from across the Celtic region have been invaluable. These are connections I would never have had the chance to make otherwise, and they have opened up new avenues for collaboration and support, which will help further develop our initiatives at the Ballinasloe Enterprise Hub.

Join us at the next Interceltic Business Forum this summer! Sign up now

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