The success achieved by Opportunity in a Million (OiM), an innovative project established in late 2013 by the Athlone Community Taskforce, was highlighted by speakers Fergal Lynam ( OiM Chairman) and Jimmy Keane (Project Manager) at a recent public forum held in the Sheraton Hotel. A key feature of OiM is the availability of over fifty volunteer mentors who are willing to share their experience and expertise to help new business start-ups, thereby encouraging people to not only ‘make your own job’ but also to provide employment for others. The outcome, without government financial investment but relying on widespread goodwill and support from the business sector, committed individuals and the wider community has seen the creation of almost 100 new jobs in the Athlone area to date.The OiM approach is based on generating a spirit of self-help, as promoted by the Athlone Branch of Rotary when involved in setting up the Athlone Community Taskforce in the 1990s.
A recent joint application from OiM and the Athlone Chamber of Commerce and Industry has secured State funding for the establishment of a high-speed enterprise hub in the Athlone area, under the auspices of Enterprise Ireland. This facility is expected to lead to large and smaller scale innovative developments and business growth across the region. In his address, Mr Lynam appealed for maximum commitment and cooperation from all stakeholders to help ensure that such a landmark resource operates to full capacity and fulfils employment expectations. Current OiM activities include encouraging companies and organisations to share excess space capacity as part of an ‘adopt an entrepreneur’ scheme, the provision of assistance with transition year student projects, and the making available of limited funding to help aspiring entrepreneurs in the short term.
In keeping with the theme of enterprise development, the keynote speaker at the event was Ray Coyle, founder of the highly successful Tayto Park in Ashbourne, County Meath. In an enlightening and wide-ranging presentation, Mr Coyle referred to the journey travelled en route to establishing his theme park which continues to attract ever-increasing visitor numbers. The vision of its founder has already seen the continuous introduction of numerous innovative features and attractions, resulting in a target of over 1.2 million Irish and overseas visitors for the coming year. Personal qualities such as optimism, dedication, patience, a determination to succeed, doing one’s homework and, above all, the identification of your ‘unique selling proposition’ are crucial ingredients for business success, according to Mr Coyle. On the basis of the success story which is Tayto Park, it would be difficult to argue with him!
Anyone wishing to get involved or seek support from OiM should contact firstname.lastname@example.org