September 28, 2020
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Kilkenny’s ‘smart villages’ – community groups invited to attend special free event 

Kilkenny is counterbalancing the EU-wide focus on ‘Smart Cities’ with a ground-breaking ‘Smart Villages‘ initiative which kicks off this month.

The initiative aims to help small businesses, community activists and groups to ‘Think Smart’ about the future options for rural communities.

Kilkenny LEADER Partnership (KLP) wants to help towns and villages think in new and dynamic ways about their future. It wants community groups, activists and small businesses to work together, to be innovative and think laterally to future proof by looking at transport, community facilities, their local food supply and chain, environment, sustainability and more. It has funding available for planning, training, capital, marketing and more to make rural communities smarter and more sustainable for generations to come.

While the capacity of the digital revolution remains a key instrument in the Smart Village ‘tool-kit’, KLP CEO Declan Rice says as much attention now needs to be paid to all types of connectivity, linkage and networking in improving services and products to help communities make rural areas in Kilkenny attractive to their current inhabitants, potential residents and visitors.

“KLP has been involved in the development of the Smart Village concept from the start and has attended numerous meetings in Brussels, elsewhere and online as the concept has been forged,” says Declan Rice.

“Very early in the development process, KLP and other Irish LEADER participants were struck by the ‘key and lock’ or ‘train and track’ analogies of LEADER as an efficient engine of Smart Villages. We can provide funding for planning, training, capital, marketing and coordination of broad-based initiatives to make rural communities smarter and more sustainable.”

The first of six free Smart Villages – Look to the Future information and training workshop explaining the initiative gets underway in the open air at Ballykeeffe Amphitheatre in Kilmanagh on Thursday, August 13, from 4pm.  The venue, once a disused quarry, was specifically chosen as an example of a smart and visionary community which turned an abandoned quarry into a renowned venue for music, theatre and rock climbing.

All community groups, small businesses and anyone interested in the future of their community is urged to register and attend the free event. A series of information and training workshops on future options for rural communities will follow in the coming months. It is intended these will cover areas such as environment, mobility and connectivity, community services and more.

Guest of honour on August 13 will be Kilkenny TD and newly appointed Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan. MC for the night will be the renowned broadcaster and journalist, Helen Carroll. To comply with strict COVID restrictions, intending participants must register their interest by emailing or phoning the LEADER office on 056 7775211. Organisers said places are limited and will be filled on a first come, first served basis.

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