IT’S barely been open a month, but already Enniskillen Workhouse is helping local entrepreneurs make connections and inspiring the next generation of Fermanagh business owners.
The historic building with a dark past – housing thousands of impoverished ‘inmates’ throughout the Great Famine – has been given a bright new future thanks to a state-of-the-art restoration project that has seen it transformed into a hub of local innovation.
Offering work spaces and meeting spaces for business, individuals, and groups, the Workhouse is also focused on bringing people together for networking and collaboration.
Having officially been opened at the beginning of September, the Workhouse team have hit the ground running, putting on a programme of ‘meet up’ events on for the autumn season, aimed at promoting the building’s facilities, and inspiring aspiring entrepreneurs.
The first kicked off recently with a talk from Enniskillen man Dr Michael Quinn, who founded medical tech company, Round Safely. He has since employed two local men, Tom Brewster and Seamus McGrath, as part of the successful start-up.
Workhouse business manager Kate McGrath said the talk by Dr Quinn was in keeping with the aims of the workhouse project.
“It’s a lovely story of someone who is from Enniskillen, who is doing something great, telling a bit about their journey – including the realism of that journey, because it’s not always as easy as maybe we think,” said said.
Ms McGrath said the event with Dr Quinn, and the upcoming meet ups, were aimed at “giving people an opportunity to come together, network, meet.”
The meet up with Dr Quinn was well attended by students from the Erne Campus of the South West College, which has been working with the Council on the Workhouse project, with National Lottery Heritage funding.
Also present were representatives of various support agencies, both local and regional, which Ms McGrath hoped would be able to guide the young people on their own entrepreneurial journeys.
“It’s all about how we help our locals to connect with these bigger ecosystems across the island of Ireland, to help us grow and develop, and hopefully develop businesses where our young people can see themselves, a reason to stay or come home,” she said.
Ms McGrath said the Workhouse was already being well used, particularly from those working remotely, and noted the post-Covid shift towards more home working was seeing people returning or moving to settle in the Fermanagh area.
“Somewhere like this gives them the opportunity maybe not to be out of home all the time, but to be around people and get that sort of office feel and to make connections and be part of something like this,” she said.
“That’s where we hope the events start to play a part as well, so reasons to come in, be around people, hear somebody about what their journey is.”
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