Cork Chamber Annual Report 2023

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Annual Report 2023

Table of Contents Introduction President’s Message 06 CEO’s Message 07 About Cork Chamber 08 Strategic Action Areas 10 Securing the Future: Our Dedication to Sustainability 12 Governance Structure Governance 16 Board of Directors 18 Board Composition & Committees 20 Chamber Team 22 Our Work Public Affairs 26 Communications 28 Training & Development 30 Events 32 Membership Engagement 34 Connecting Cork 36 International Relations 37 Enterprise Europe Network 38 Export Documentation 39 Recognising Your Success 40 Sustainability 42 Finance | Partners | Sponsors Financial Statements 48 Partners 2023 50 Sponsors 2023 51 SECTION ONE – INTRODUCTION 03

SECTION ONE Introduction

President’s Message

I am filled with pride at the remarkable achievements and progress we have made at Cork Chamber, and together as a city and region through 2023. Despite the prevailing geopolitical challenges, the business community demonstrated resilience and adaptability within a vibrant economy. Our ability to respond and innovate in the face of change is a testament to the strength of our business landscape and the collaboration between government and business.

The priorities of the business community in Cork have remained top of the agenda for Cork Chamber, and through the astute strategic actions of the Chamber team, collaboration, engagement, and advocacy, much progress has been made.

New housing policies have been put in place to help alleviate pressure in the housing market. Significant progress has been made on some of the region’s largest infrastructure projects, across suburban rail, BusConnects and road infrastructure. Renewable energy policy developments have helped Ireland and Cork to step closer to achieving Ireland’s renewable energy targets. Such progress in 2023 all contributed to the overarching goal of ensuring that Cork is an attractive place to live, to work, to visit, and importantly, to invest in.

While we remain focused on what more can be done to safeguard Cork’s attractiveness for generations to come, it is encouraging that through 2023 there were numerous FDI investments, and indigenous and MNC job announcements. There exists a great confidence in our city region.

Cork is well placed for further progress. A hub for innovation, with a strong talent pipeline and international access. A home for life sciences, for professional services, financial services and indeed for technology businesses. It is considered the food capital of Ireland with a thriving agri-sector and as one of the most popular tourism destinations. We are indeed at the very heart of our national eco-system with an offering that continues to win on the world stage.

Cork remains an embracing city, steeped in community, rich in history, and brimming with opportunity. It’s a place we can all be incredibly proud of. As we look to the future, we must continue to invest in and nurture our city’s potential, ensuring that our city region continues to grow sustainably and attract the investment needed to ensure enduring success.

Together, we are building a stronger, more vibrant business community for generations to come.


CEO’s Message

As we reflect on 2023, there are many accomplishments, challenges, and opportunities of note. Cork Chamber has remained a committed pillar of support and advocacy for our members and the broader business community. Together, we have adapted, seizing opportunities for growth and innovation.

Through 2023 our member services team grew, delivering more value for our members and allowing Cork Chamber to respond to the evolving business landscape. We continued to enhance our events offering, providing a platform through which productive connections can be made.

With the availability of specialist skills remaining a top threat to business growth through 2023, our Skillnet team have responded, adapting the training and development offerings to meet the rapidly changing needs of our members. Upskilling and employee retention have come to the fore for many, as well as the demand for specialist skills in new emerging technologies, sustainability and management skills.

International travel plans were thankfully unhindered by travel restrictions for the first time in a few years, which heightened our awareness of the privilege it is to represent Cork as a place for business on the international stage. It is reassuring that our export documentation service remained strong through 2023.

European funding has further bolstered Cork Chamber’s offering, enabling the hosting of Enterprise Europe Network Cork and ReeValue. These programmes provided vital support to SMEs looking to expand internationally and embark on sustainability journeys, illustrating the positive impact of the EU on our regional business community.

At Cork Chamber we are committed to representing the needs of our business community and the interests of our city region. Cork Chamber is the number one regional lobby group in Ireland, advocating on behalf of our members, ensuring that the interests of Cork remain high on the regional and national agenda.

Cork is in a very strong position with a unique offering. We must work to seize the opportunities that exist, as a gateway to Europe, as a hub for renewables, a hot-spot for emerging technologies and as one of the most desirable locations for its quality of life offering. We will continue to lobby for speedier delivery of housing, infrastructure, and a flourishing skills market. Only attractive, cohesive communities, smart sustainable urban living, green spaces, and connectivity prepared for the future will suffice.

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations remained high on the agenda, with Cork Chamber leading by example in its own initiatives and projects. Additionally, member feedback shaped the chamber’s advocacy agenda, ensuring that the voices of the business community were heard and addressed at all levels of government.

Cork Chamber is backed by an exceptional volunteer board, led by the President Ronan Murray. The commitment and invaluable expertise brought by each board member have been instrumental in steering Cork Chamber. I am truly grateful for their leadership and contributions. The professional team at Cork Chamber has delivered exceptional value to our members across all business sectors. Their dedication exemplifies the spirit of collaboration and service that defines Cork Chamber.

I would like to express my gratitude to our members, partners, sponsors and many stakeholders for their continued dedication, support and engagement. Together, we achieve remarkable things, and I am confident that through our collective efforts, Cork will continue to thrive in the years to come.


About Cork Chamber

Established in 1819, the Cork Chamber of Commerce has maintained a steadfast commitment to becoming the premier business entity in the Cork region. On November 8, 1819, a gathering of business leaders convened in Shinkwin’s rooms on Patrick Street, the site of the Victoria Hotel, and appointed a committee to explore the establishment of a new commercial organisation. Within a week, on November 13, the organising group reported to a meeting where it was resolved to create a Chamber of Commerce.

In the 200+ years since our inception Cork Chamber has been at the heart of the positive changes that Cork has experienced. Cork Chamber continues to be ambitious for the city and county.

Chambers of Commerce act as a focal point for the business community. Cork Chamber is a not-for-profit membership-led organisation, existing to serve our members through excellence in service provision and thought leadership.

Cork Chamber is presently implementing its Strategic Plan 2021-2024, which acts as a guide delineating our vision, objectives, and undertakings for the forthcoming years. This plan underscores our dedication to propelling economic expansion, nurturing innovation, and augmenting the collective prosperity of Cork and its business landscape. By prioritising collaboration, advocacy, and forward-looking strategies, we aspire to tackle the region’s challenges and capitalise on its opportunities, thus positioning Cork as a dynamic centre for business and innovation.




To be a world-leading Chamber of Commerce, delivering on a progressive economic, social and sustainability agenda at the heart of a vibrant business community.

Our purpose

Our members are our motivation. We champion Cork as a globally recognised place for business, innovation and quality of life. Working together we empower and support a successful and inclusive membership who drive a thriving Cork.


Forward Thinking

Dynamism is about constant change, progress, agility and momentum. We work on the understanding that the way we do things today will not be the way we do things tomorrow. We keep innovating, so you can too.


Respected Thought Leaders

We work not only to support, but also to provoke and inspire braver, better decisions that can positively impact business.

We bring the brightest and most innovative people together to catalyse positive change.

Together we push the issues that make us competitive.


Sustainable, Inclusive, Diverse

Everyone has a valuable contribution to make. We believe in the power of sustainability, inclusivity, equality and diversity for the greater good. We do the right things for the right reasons. For members, business, community and future generations.

We’re here for the long run, the big picture.


Change makers

For over 200 years the Chamber has stood with members and championed Cork. We work with passion and purpose to achieve economic, social and environmental resilience. We have a duty to leave our own legacy. We make our contribution count.


Strategic Action Areas

Our vision and purpose guide the daily activity and strategic decision making at Cork Chamber. We are a service innovator with dedicated member focus, creating opportunity and community. Our global outlook forges strong relationships and an informed perspective. As a champion of sustainability, we drive change for good to enhance the competitiveness of Ireland’s fastest growing city region.

Each of our strategic actions below contributes to the achievement of one or more of our deliverables outlined in our annual strategy delivery plan. Our progress is assessed regularly.

• Influencing, Representing, Collaborating

• Informing, Connecting, Promoting

• Growing, Partnering, Internationalising

• People, Operations, Finance, Governance


As the voice of Chamber members, through our public affairs and communications activity, we engage proactively with government and key stakeholders on pressing regional business issues like talent attraction and retention, housing, transport, and climate action to collaboratively drive a positive and progressive agenda, creating a world leading business environment.

We will:

1. Be the most impactful regional advocacy group in Ireland

2. Demonstrate best in class member interaction to guide our mandate

3. Lead in the delivery and interpretation of the UN SGDs

4. Be the leading voice for relevant and critical updates for your business and the Cork region

5. Present a contemporary, world-leading chamber brand


Proudly championing you, your team and your business. Supporting you at every stage with a proactive Chamber team and impactful services.

We will:

1. Deliver dynamic events with thought provoking content and speakers

2. Provide unrivalled opportunities to develop meaningful business connections

3. Progress exemplary digital and media communications

4. Enhance your team development and business competitiveness by providing high quality training

5. Shine a spotlight on your business with strong promotional channels



Connecting you to our international networks through trade missions, events and business matching initiatives, while raising the profile of Cork internationally to support the attraction of investment and talent to the region.

We will:

1. Help you to grow your business into new markets

2. Showcase the dynamic business ecosystem and quality of life in Cork to global audiences

3. Connect you with our global diaspora and diplomatic community networks

4. Develop international relationships to support the exchange of innovative ideas and best practices

5. Position internationally Cork’s unique qualities and attributes for investment and talent


To achieve the best results for Chamber members, our Strategic Plan will be delivered with confidence and excellence. We will continually challenge and improve our ways of working. We will be collaborative, and governance driven with a focus on people, ESG, innovation and digital transformation.

We will:

1. Maintain an agile Strategic Plan and a comprehensive Strategy Delivery Plan which will be integrated and assessed by the Board & Senior Management Team

2. Continue the evolution of the ChamberCare employee wellbeing programme with a strong focus on mental wellbeing

3. Live our values to maintain a culture and environment that respects the contribution of a diverse and professional team

4. Be to the fore in adopting and implementing best in class governance practice

5. Maintain a rigorous pursuit of leading financial performance within our sector



Securing the Future: Our Dedication to Sustainability

The implementation of our Strategic Plan is shaped, directed, and guided by our formal commitment to uphold the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. We are dedicated to continually integrate, adapt, and actively drive these goals forward with a sense of urgency. As the global sustainability agenda undergoes rapid transformation, encompassing topics such as the energy transition, CSRD (Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive), the Green Deal and ESG, our aspiration is to lead the way.


1. Enabling our Sustainability Committee to drive an impactful agenda

2. Delivering an informative and impactful Sustainable Cork event series

3. Sustainable operations, Diversity, Equality, Inclusion & Belonging

4. Advancing Environmental, Social and Governance principles (ESG)

5. Supporting societal cohesion, community development and integration



Governance Structure


Cork Chamber is dedicated to operating to the highest standards of efficient and effective corporate governance. Good governance is essential to creating business organisations that are independent and purpose driven, can grow a broad membership base, be responsible financial stewards, provide membership services and effectively represent their member interests in the public policy process.


• Ronan Murray, President

• Rob Horgan, Vice-President

• Gerard O’Donovan, Honorary Treasurer

• Thia Hennessy, Honorary Secretary

• Fiona Kearney

• Brian Fitzgerald

• Michael Nolan

• Ray Kelleher

• Susie Horgan

• Michael Harte

• Catherine Sheridan

• Richard Morrissey

• David Swinburne

• Maxine Hyde

• Maria Desmond (Elected May 2023)

• Anne-Marie Linehan (Co-opted June 2023)

• Paul Hourican (Co-opted June 2023)

• Noreen Walsh (Co-opted June 2023)

• Pankaj Agarwal (Retired May 2023)

• Deirdre Waldron (Retired May 2023)

• Paula Cogan (Retired May 2023)

• Niall Kenny (Retired May 2023)

• Clair Murphy (Resigned May 2023


• Executive Committee

• Audit & Risk Committee

• Governance & Nominations Committee

• Membership Committee

• Sustainability Committee

• Remuneration Committee



Fitzgerald House, Summerhill North, Cork

T23 TD90


PWC, One Albert Quay, Cork


JRAP O’Meara

89/90 South Mall Cork


Cork Chamber Governance Structure





Organisational Structure

Remuneration Committee Governance & Nominations Committee Sustainability Committee Membership Committee Audit & Risk Committee CEO Director of People, Operations & Governance Finance Manager & Company Secretary Communications & Marketing Manager International Relations Manager Director of Member Services Director of Public Affairs Export Documentation Manager Operations Executive Office Assistant Accounts Administrator REEValue Project Coordinator EEN Executive Membership Executive Membership Executive Receptionist Public Affairs & Sustainability Executive Policy & Research Executive Public Affairs & Communications Executive Training & Development Executive Events & Marketing Executive Training & Development Manager Business Development Manager Events Manager

Board of Directors

Ronan Murray President EY Rob Horgan Vice President Velo Coffee Roasters Thia Hennessy Honorary Secretary Cork University Business School Gerard O’Donovan Honorary Treasurer MTU Maria Desmond Enable Ireland Captain Brian Fitzgerald Simply Blue Group Michael Harte Dairygold Co-operative Society Limited Susie Horgan Springboard Communications Paul Hourican PFH Technology Group Maxine Hyde Ballymaloe Foods Fiona Kearney The Glucksman UCC Ray Kelleher The Montenotte Anne-Marie Linehan J.W. O’Donovan Richard Morrissey Moneycorp Technologies Limited. Michael Nolan Grant Thornton
Debbie Power Future Planet


Board Member

Ronan Murray

Gerard O’Donovan

Thia Hennessy

Rob Horgan

Fiona Kearney

Brian Fitzgerald

Michael Nolan

Ray Kelleher

Susie Horgan

Michael Harte

Catherine Sheridan

Richard Morrissey

David Swinburne

Maxine Hyde

Debbie Power

Mid-Year App May 2023

Maria Desmond

Mid-Year App June 2023

Anne-Marie Linehan

Paul Hourican

Noreen Walsh

Resigned May 2023

Paula Cogan

Deirdre Waldron

Niall Kenny

Clair Murphy

Pankaj Agarwal

Catherine Sheridan Sheridan Advisory Services David Swinburne Mazars Noreen Walsh AIB Bank
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The key role of the Board of the Chamber is to provide efficient and effective leadership for Cork Chamber within a framework of practical controls. The Board performs two roles. It firstly provides strategic direction to the Chamber, based on listening to, understanding and representing the needs of the Chamber’s members and Cork’s business community. Secondly, it has specific oversight responsibilities in respect of executive functions.

The composition of the Board should be balanced and reflect, as far as possible, the Chamber membership having regard to company size, diversity, and skillset.

The Board shall consist of not more than 24 members as follows:

• The President

• The Immediate Past President or the Vice President (if appointed)

• The Honorary Secretary

• The Honorary Treasurer

12 elected members if a Vice-President has been appointed and otherwise 13 elected members in addition to members co-opted under Articles 24 and 25. Not more than 7 co-opted members as provided for under Article 24. The Elected members of the Board shall hold office for a period of four years and shall not be eligible for re-election to the Board other than as President until a period of three years has elapsed. All Directors are non-executive and sit on the board on a voluntary basis, receiving no remuneration for their time and contribution.

As soon as possible following their appointments, all new Board members including co-options shall receive an induction during which they shall be advised about the Chamber’s key policies and work programme, and the provisions of the Chambers Code of Governance. They shall also be invited to meet with the President, CEO and Chamber Team to gain a deeper understanding of the daily operations of Cork Chamber. They will also be provided with an induction pack which will include:

• Code of Governance

• The Constitution

• Financial Statements & Management Accounts

• Budget

• Access to minutes of previous board meetings

• Strategic Plan

• Strategy Delivery Plan

• Annual Report.


The Board seeks to meet on at least 8 occasions in each calendar year. A schedule of yearly Board meetings is circulated at the beginning of the year. Meetings are scheduled for a duration of 1.5/2 hours. From time to time it may be necessary for meetings to be extended to allow sufficient time for discussion of issues in an appropriate manner. A themed agenda for the Board is drawn up to make best use of the time available and ensure that there is the appropriate focus on policy and strategy. Supporting material is circulated with the draft agenda to provide background to any topics included, such as minutes of previous meetings, management accounts, risk register, and relevant reports etc.

Cork Chamber has a conflict-of-interest policy in place which is reviewed annually. Board members should identify and promptly declare any actual or potential conflicts of interest which arise at board meetings. Such declarations should be made at the beginning of each board meeting at which the matter is discussed and should be recorded in the Board minutes. Where a material conflict of interest arises, the Board member concerned should not participate in discussions nor, may the Board member participate in any vote in respect of any contract in which they have an interest. They should also offer to withdraw from the meeting, and the Board should decide if this is required.



The Chamber has 6 Board Committees:

• Executive Committee

• Remuneration Committee

• Audit & Risk Committee

• Governance & Nominations Committee

• Sustainability Committee

• Membership Committee


The Executive Committee is appointed by Board and consists of at least four Board members. Its members include the President, (who shall be the Chair), the Immediate Past President/Vice– President, the Honorary Treasurer and Honorary Secretary. The CEO shall, ex officio, attend Executive Committee meetings. The Executive Committee is authorised to meet and take action between board meetings when it is impractical to get the full board together.


The Remuneration Committee is appointed by the Board and shall consist of at least 4 members including the Chair and President of Cork Chamber. The Remuneration Committee have delegated responsibility for setting the remuneration for the CEO and the pay policy for the Senior Management Team of the Chamber. There is a formal and clear procedure for developing policy on executive remuneration. No executive will be involved in setting their own remuneration. The CEO brings to the committee proposals for CEO and Senior Management Team remuneration, and proposals for team remuneration, for consideration by the Committee.


The Audit & Risk Committee is a committee of the Board of Cork Chamber. Where it is necessary to augment the necessary skillset of the committee, the committee may contain a member or members who are not members of the Board of Cork Chamber. There are formal and clear arrangements for considering how the Board should apply financial reporting and internal control principles and for maintaining an appropriate relationship with the Chamber’s auditors. This is delegated by the Board.


The Governance & Nominations Committee is a committee of the Board of Cork Chamber. The Governance & Nominations Committee have a leadership role related to board effectiveness and governance. Their duties extend to board succession planning, including identifying potential candidates for election or co-option onto the board.


The Membership Committee is a committee of the Board of Cork Chamber. The Membership Committee will consist of representatives from the Board and a smaller number of Chamber members from the wider membership who will focus on the delivery of the main Membership Development priorities of Cork Chamber.


The Sustainability Committee is a committee of the Board of Cork Chamber. The committee will serve in a practical way to structure and support Cork Chamber’s sustainability strategy and actions through an impactful Sustainable Cork Programme. It will assist in informing and developing strategy on Sustainability, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) principles and specifically on Cork Chamber’s leadership and actions on five selected UN Sustainable Development Goals.


Chamber Team

Conor Healy CEO 021 450 9044

Ashley Amato Public Affairs & Sustainability Executive 021 450 9044

Deirdre Griffin Business Development Manager 021 453 0136

Annie FitzGibbon Director of Member Services 021 453 0145

Bo Browne Communications & Marketing Manager 021 453 0146

Ruby Hardie-Brown Office Assistant 021 450 9044

Naoimh Frawley Director of People, Operations & Governance 021 453 0143

Lisa Dennehy Events Manager 021 453 0149

Cathal McSweeney Director of Public Affairs 021 453 0137

George GIll Policy & Research Executive 021 4509044

Juliet Haykal Libbos Operations Executive  021 4530150

Carmel Holland Finance Manager 021 453 0134


Lisa Hurley Receptionist 021 453 0131

Imelda Mulcahy Export Documentation Manager

021 453 0130

Helena O’Keeffe

Membership Executive 021 453 0133

Fiona Keena Accounts Executive 021 453 0134

Kate Murray Training & Development Executive 021 453 0142

Annette O’Keeffe Membership Executive 021 453 0136

Grace Kelleher International Manager 021 4530132

Vicky O’Connor Events & Marketing Executive 021 453 0140

Garrett O’Rourke Training & Development Manager 021 453 0141

Alicia Mateos Cárdenas ReeValue Project Coordinator 021 4509044

Fiona O’Donovan Public Affairs & Communications Executive 021 450 9044



Our Work

Public Affairs

Throughout 2023, our Public Affairs team pursued the priorities set by our Chamber partners and members, advocating at the highest level to advance these objectives.

We worked with our members, partners, stakeholders, and elected representatives to progress key areas of focus such as housing, renewables and energy security, talent and integration, and transport and connectivity, planning reform, speed of delivery, and research and development.

The work of the public affairs team was guided by a sustainable agenda with a focus on the Sustainable Cork Programme. To ensure that we are fully informed on the sustainability needs of the business community in Cork we dedicated an Economic Trends survey to the subject matter.

Key findings emerged around time constraints, costs and specialist skills needs. Given these findings we are continuing our work with key stakeholders to find a solutions-based approach to tackling these barriers.

As well as our advocacy, we run and participate in a range of forums from the Transport and Mobility Forum to the Cork Development Forum, which includes key stakeholders from across Cork ensuring joined up thinking and investment on key infrastructure. We consulted our members and dozens of government consultations equipped with member feedback to fully represent the needs of our members and the wider region.


Verified as Ireland’s most active regional advocacy body


Lobbying engagements, including written submissions, meetings and statements


Economic Trends Surveys and quarterly publications informing business leaders and government decision makers


Consultations on policy advocacy and in-depth policy submissions including; Review of National Ports Policy, National Industrial Strategy for Offshore Wind 2023, and the Cork City Local Economic & Community Plan 2023-2029.

Budget 2024

A comprehensive submission presented to Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath with a focus on housing, energy and renewables, inflation, competitiveness and budget surplus, education & skills, Project Ireland 2040, and tourism



Measures proposed to An Taoiseach to address housing shortages and stimulate supply – Cost-rental limits have been increased and signs of apartment delivery coming on stream.

Active members of Chambers Ireland, our partners in influencing and representing business


Your voice at regional groups and forums including Cork Development Forum, Cork City Centre Forum, CORE, Airport Council, and South West Regional Skills Forum


Housing: Widening cost-rental threshold

Housing advocacy was a top priority for the Chamber team in 2023 as demand for housing continued to outstrip supply in our city region, and our Economic Trends Survey consistently identified housing as one of the top threats to growth for companies.

Following a series of meetings at the highest levels of government, including a meeting with then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste Micheál Martin and Minister Simon Coveney, we put forward a solutions-based approach as informed by industry experts and previously commissioned reports with the Construction Industry Federation of Ireland on apartment delivery. One of the main recommendations we had been advocating for was the widening of the cost-rental income threshold. Based on member feedback and insight from industry experts we argued that the conditions associated with accessing cost-rental units would leave large sections of the workforce excluded from accessing the scheme as the

primary eligibility condition for accessing Cost Rental housing is a maximum net household income of €53,000. This situation would leave many workers unable to afford a home in the private market but equally unable to qualify for a cost-rental unit when income is above the specified threshold.

Following our lobbying efforts on the issue, it was announced in July of 2023 that income limits for cost-rental housing applicants were to increase to €66,000 in Dublin and €59,000 in the rest of the country. While the adjustment is to be welcomed, these increases are still too modest and do not reflect couple’s earnings in or around the average industrial wage. We therefore continued our lobbying campaign to see a further upward revision by addressing this in our 2024 pre-Budget submission which was presented to Minister Michael McGrath. We also raised the issued directly with the Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien on stage when he spoke at our November Thought Leaders Council event. We will continue to advocate for the extension of cost-rental threshold into 2024.



At Cork Chamber, communication is the lifeblood of how we work, facilitating our diverse activities. Through effective communication channels, the Chamber disseminates the right information to the right audiences.

We keep our members updated, ensure our stakeholders are informed and that external media are in the loop. Our content ranges from legislative changes, and economic trends, to promoting our events and celebrating our members. Whether through newsletters, emails, or social media platforms, communication fosters engagement, encourages participation in events and training, and, importantly, helps to ensure that our business community is



Media value achieved through national and regional media across broadcast, print & online


Social media channels across Cork Chamber, Skillnet, Connecting Cork, EEN & REEValue


Followers across social media channels


Recipients of direct member newsletters and flyers

empowered to be active participants in shaping the growth of our city region. Additionally, our communications function serves as a conduit for member feedback, ensuring that the Chamber remains responsive to the needs of the local business community. In essence, communication not only connects individuals within the Chamber but also strengthens our collective voice, advocating for the interests and prosperity of our members.


Website visitors in 2023 (


Followers across Connecting Cork social media


Impressions of online Chamberlink content, in addition to 5k print circulation


CASE STUDY Company of the Year Awards

The Cork Company of the Year Awards recognise the outstanding contributions to the region’s business community and celebrate the excellence and innovation demonstrated by companies with a strong Cork focus.

In 2023, the Cork Chamber Cork Company of the Year Awards marked 25 years of celebrating excellence. Throughout this time, the awards have grown and adapted to contemporary demands, placing increased emphasis on sustainability, integration, diversity, equality, and inclusion. Evaluating the environmental footprint of businesses has become a paramount consideration in the judging process.

What distinguishes the Cork Company of the Year Awards offer a unique opportunity to finalists to showcase their business through a full multi-channel and mutli-platform communications campaign. Complimentary professionally produced videos are crafted for each finalist, capturing the essence of each finalist’s business on-site. The resulting videos are disseminated across various online platforms including LinkedIn, X, Facebook, Instagram, the website, and YouTube as well as being published through the Irish Examiner. A dedicated webpage is developed to host all the content.

Harnessing the value of our sponsors and media partner allows us to amplify the exposure the finalists gain by sharing the content through their respective channels. This comprehensive approach not only celebrates achievements but also facilitates invaluable visibility and networking opportunities for finalists, ultimately contributing to the advancement and recognition of outstanding businesses within the Cork community. Editorial on each finalist is published in the Irish Examiner, and this is also hosted online and shared across digital channels. Once the winners are announced a comprehensive PR campaign ensures coverage across broadcast, print, online media.

While they are unquestionably competitive, the Cork Company of the Year Awards provide entrants with an unrivalled opportunity to shine among peers, stakeholders, customers and not least, their employee network. These awards also serve as an exceptional platform for entrants to narrate the journey of their business and to showcase their growth and ambitions.

• Planned communications plan for over four months from launch in September until the awards night the following February and the weeks following

• Dedicated webpage

• Promotional communications including dedicated e-Flyers, weekly e-Bulletin and ChamberLink

• Digital advertising campaign through media partnership

• Press coverage through media partnership and other media

• Video & social media content


Training & Development

Cork Chamber Skillnet is a multi-sector regional business training network offering subsidised training and development opportunities to businesses within the southwest region. With over 20 years of training delivery expertise, the Cork Chamber Skillnet team are passionately committed to supporting businesses throughout the talent development journey of their most valued asset, their people.



Trainee sessions delivered in 2023

84 Bespoke in-house training courses

21 Public courses

Continued high demand for online delivery



16 Complimentary L&D webinars

7 Non-formal events

328 Participant member companies


Training days


Attendees at in-person ‘Cork Talent and Skills, What Lies Beneath’ event



New Cork Chamber Skillnet Steering Group members

“Near perfect” 4.5/5 network review from Skillnet Ireland

New sponsorship of Mental Health workshops & HR Leadership Forum IMI, MTU, UCC offerings continue to evolve

Continue to identify emerging training patterns/trends


IMI Essential Skills of Management

Cork Chamber collaborated with Midas Skillnet and IMI to deliver the IMI Essential Skills of Management programme which was offered to our members to support them in developing their managers on their career progression. Two successful iterations were rolled out during the year with all available spaces taken up. These programmes were strongly subsidised via Cork Chamber Skillnet at a reduced rate of €1,000 offered to members instead of the normal rate of €4,395.



Cork Chamber’s diverse and bustling events calendar serves as an invaluable and continuous platform for our members to establish crucial connections. We curate a vibrant and dynamic array of events, encompassing both in-person and online formats, tailored to the diverse interests of our members. Our events offer access to thought-provoking content and esteemed speakers, presenting unparalleled opportunities to cultivate meaningful business relationships.


100 Events

6,250+ Member registrations


‘Upcoming Events’ flyers sent


ConnectMe page views up 15%

First in-person Sustainable Cork Programme event

Partnerships in 2023 included: MII Cork, Tech Industry Alliance & RDI Hub, Employment & Recruitment Federation, France Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Cork Chamber Skillnet

Cork Chamber Annual Dinner & Cork Company of the Year returned to City Hall with new sponsor


Guests at Cork Digital Marketing Awards

2 HR Leadership Forum sessions


Attendees across our Annual Dinner, Dublin Dinner and Christmas Lunch


New Sporting Lunch event

Business Owners Forum sessions with active group of 15+ SMEs

Sporting Lunch

In May 2023, Cork Chamber proudly held its inaugural Sporting Lunch, a gathering that brought together 200 attendees from the region’s business and sporting communities.

The highlight of the event was a captivating panel discussion featuring esteemed athletes Rory Best, former Irish Rugby Captain; Damien Cahalane, Cork Senior Hurling Team; Emily Hegarty, Irish Rower & Olympic Medallist; Shane Walsh, Gaelic Footballer and the discussion was moderated by broadcaster Marie Crowe.

The panellists shared their experiences, challenges, and triumphs, providing valuable insights into their world of sports. This event not only celebrated Cork’s rich sporting heritage but also fostered valuable connections between industry leaders and sporting icons.


Membership Engagement

At Cork Chamber, our members are not just at the core, they are the heartbeat of everything we do. With our proactive team and impactful services, we stand firmly behind our members at every stage, championing their success and driving a thriving Cork.


1,200 Active members employing 120,000+ people


New members recruited

4 New Chamber Partners

8 Virtual Maximise Your Membership sessions with 106 members logging on

7 New Members Breakfast meetings


Business Owners Forum sessions with active group of 15+ SMEs

Strategic partnership continued with Adare Human Resource Management providing several benefits for members along with a revenue line for the organisation


Meetings of newly formed Membership Committee

Significant growth in Business Directory searches and Member Page hits

Revised subscription rates implemented across four membership categories

Approx 1,000 member communications uploaded via the Members Area and promoted through our channels



Digital Promotional Opportunities via Members Area

In 2023 we saw continued growth of the promotional opportunities afforded to members via the Members Area online portal.

Through this portal members can manage their own branded business profile within our Members Directory utilising graphics, imagery and video, share key contacts, along with uploading news, events, special offers and job opportunities which we then promote on their behalf.

Through 2023 we saw significant increase in the number of directory searches and member page views compared to the previous year. Members also uploaded almost 1,000 communications in the form of news releases, events, special offers and job opportunities that we then promoted on their behalf through our website and via our weekly eBulletin circulated to nearly 5,000 business contacts.

This growth is testament to the commitment from the membership team in the delivery and management of this valuable member benefit. A number of key activities feed into the achievement of these results including the strong SEO of, the promotion of our new members and the wider directory through the weekly ebulletin, via social media and Chamberlink Magazine, as well as the promotion of member news, events, offers, and job opportunities via our weekly ebulletin. In addition, the use of this portal is enhanced through the delivery of regular virtual Maximise your Membership workshops where the use of the online Members Area is demonstrated with attendees to encourage usage.


Connecting Cork

Connecting Cork is a Cork Chamber initiative to develop our international relationships and to promote Cork to a targeted international audience while allowing us to engage with members of the Irish business community overseas. The promotion of Cork as a destination for business, investment, talent and collaboration is crucial for the continued prosperity and economic growth of the region. Connecting Cork looks to complement the work of the IDA and government by focusing on Cork’s offering.

The St Patrick’s Day celebrations continue to open doors around the world for Ireland Inc. throughout March and provides the perfect trigger for the Chamber’s international activities each year. Through Connecting Cork, Cork Chamber joined the Cork City mission to sister city San Francisco which was directly followed by the St. Patricks events in Washington DC as part of Team Ireland. Cork Chamber were also part of missions to Boston, Chicago and New York with Irish Funds and Ireland Gateway to Europe. Our attendance at the SelectUSA Summit in May gave us access to economic development authorities from all 50 US States enabling us to build connections for our members. Seattle in October saw the Chamber continue its close relationship with Irish Network USA by

sponsoring their Annual Conference. The location also presented the opportunity to build new connections in Seattle and Vancouver, Canada. With restrictions lifted in China, Cork Chamber joined stakeholders from across the city on a mission to sister city Shanghai where we signed an MOU with Invest Shanghai.

The Cork Financial Services Forum capitalised on their momentum by hosting an event in Cork to promote the region as an IFS destination. The Forum also initiated other activities like the Emerging Leaders Taskforce and a talent attraction campaign while the Cork for IFS movement was also out in force at several Irish Funds events in London

Connecting Cork is supported by


International Relations

Cork Chamber plays a key role for the region in maintaining existing and building new relationships with embassies and foreign trade bodies in Ireland and abroad. The Chamber works closely with government, embassies and key local stakeholders to plan itineraries and events for international delegations visiting Cork.

This collaborative approach ensures that Cork and its business community is positively represented, and inbound delegation maximise their time here.


Ambassadors welcomed to Cork Chamber from South Africa, Slovenia, Estonia, Norway, New Zealand and the UK



Cork Chamber participated in the organisation of 7 international trade missions to Cork in 2023 and were involved in 11 outward international missions

REEValue began in November 2023. This European Commissionfunded project aims to enhance energy efficiency and promote renewable energy investments in value chains across the food, beverage and transport industries. Cork Chamber is one of nine organisations from throughout Europe with representation from Belgium, Greece, Ireland, Malta, Italy and Portugal comprising REEValue’s Consortium.


Enterprise Europe Network

The Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) is the largest support network in the world for SMEs looking to innovate and grow internationally. The EEN at Cork Chamber plays a key role in creating international connections and commercial opportunities for SMEs in the region.

The EEN at Cork Chamber works closely with local authorities, local clusters, and international stakeholders to organise both inbound and outbound trade missions, creating opportunities for SMEs in Cork. This strategic collaborative approach ensures our missions provide maximum impact and opportunities to our clients in Cork.



International B2B networking events in 2023; one inbound Portuguese trade mission to Cork and one outbound trade mission to Austria


Cork companies achieve international partnership agreements


Cork Chamber provided four Cork companies advanced advisory services, which directly resulted in them accessing new markets


Export Documentation

Cork Chamber is a leading provider of export documentation services. We are officially authorised by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and Chambers Ireland to issue and certify export documentation.

The export team provide a bespoke certification service to a number of clients, provide the facilities for companies to have documents authenticated with Department of Foreign Affairs and legalised with several embassies. We issue regular communications on export services, international trade information and continue to monitor notifications relating to trading with the UK.



Export documents certified


Certified online

Top 5   countries

Turkey, Oman, China, Saudi Arabia and Egypt


ICC certified signatories

6 New clients


Recognising Your Success

Cork Chamber is proud to champion our members and showcase their successes. Each year we run three awards programmes to reveal the outstanding stories of success with winners representing the vast diversity of our Cork business community. These awards are a wonderful opportunity for any business to present their story, their growth and their ambitions.

Cork Company of the Year Awards 2023

“We are thrilled to accept this prestigious award. This award is testament to the drive and dedication of our teams who are motivated to seek innovative and pioneering solutions in delivering our mission – together with our customers, we are driven to make healthcare better.”


’I am absolutely delighted to accept this award. I never thought when I came to Cork 45 years ago as a young engineer for a six-week assignment, that I would be the recipient of this prestigious award in my adopted city. Cork has been the ‘launch pad’ for the growth of PM Group from a small indigenous player into an international engineering company with a global reach.’’

Outstanding Contribution to Business Award

“We are absolutely thrilled to receive the Overall Digital Marketing Legend award for 2023. It’s an incredible honour for the RDJ team to receive this recognition from Cork Chamber and esteemed industry colleagues. The award is particularly meaningful following a rebrand undertaken by RDJ last year. Our evolved and energised brand united the firm behind a new purpose, vision and set of values and we really wanted to showcase that in our digital marketing content. Our marketing team have put an incredible amount of work over the past year into building and amplifying that new brand across all our digital platforms and reinforcing our position as a great law firm to work with, and for. This award is a testament to that hard work and to the dedication of our incredible team whose constant drive and creativity have propelled our brand into the digital spotlight”

Cork Digital Marketing Awards 2023



The Sustainable Cork Programme is a national leading initiative by Cork Chamber to embed sustainability in Cork, its businesses and across all Chamber activities.

This innovative programme is viewed as a benchmark for other Chambers bringing in national experts on cutting edge topics such as building inclusive spaces for people of all abilities and preparing for the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive. The SCP hosted its first in-person event focusing on Ireland’s energy future and the opportunities available for Cork. These events draw an exceptionally diverse cross-sectoral audience and initiate important conversations throughout Cork on how to build a sustainable future for the city region by leveraging international best practices.


Cork Chamber is deeply committed to advancing the SDGs, five of which have been identified by the Chambers Ireland Network and underpin all our activities. We aim to lead by example, using the SDGs as a guiding framework for both our internal and external activities. Our goal is to influence government, stakeholders, and our members to transition towards more sustainable practices. A significant portion of our work impacts multiple SDGs, but here is a snapshot of our contributions to specific goals:

Sustainable Cork Programme student placement with the UCC Centre for Cooperative Studies focusing on financing the decarbonisation of the built environment

SDG 5: Gender Balance

We have advocated for affordable childcare in our Budget 2024 submission and expanded our focus to encompass inclusivity across a broader range, including people with disabilities and actively promoting anti-racism. At our flagship Annual Dinner and Dublin Dinner events, we encouraged guests to ensure their ticket allocations reflected diversity and inclusivity. The percentage of male to female speakers throughout the year at our events in 2023 was 55% male and 45% female.

Registrations for SCP events

Energy Cork & SEAI Energy Champions

SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

We submitted eight policy recommendations to government consultations directly related to this SDG, such as the National Strategy on Migrant Integration, the Personal Tax Policy Review and the National Risk Assessment. We actively contribute to forums and initiatives such as Ability at Work, Visit Cork, Purple Flag, and the Age Friendly Alliance.

SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

We actively lobbied for Cork to be designated as a hub for renewable energy and submitted eight policy recommendations to government consultations related to this SDG such as the National Industrial Strategy for Offshore Wind and the Bioeconomy Action Plan. We also actively


contribute to and are on the steering committee for the Cork Smart Gateway which aims to promote and develop innovation in Cork.

SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

We participated in the “Get Ireland Walking” video campaign and supported Cork’s inaugural Car Free Day. We submitted 10 policy recommendations to government consultations directly related to this SDG, such as the Street Performer Bye Laws 2023 and Sustainable and Compact Settlement Guidelines. We actively participate in the Transport and Mobility Forum and encouraged guests to use sustainable transport options when attending our Dublin Dinner, arranging a 15% rail discount with Irish Rail based.

SDG 13: Climate Action

We participated in the Joining the Dots Retrofitting Panel and submitted seven policy recommendations to government consultations directly related to this SDG including the National Climate Action Plan and the Long-Term Strategy for Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions. Our involvement in REEValue showcases our proactive approach to addressing climate change.


Cork Chamber acknowledges the significance of adopting Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles to promote sustainable business practices. We are dedicated to practicing responsible business behaviour, making a social impact, and acting as stewards of the environment. Below are some of the measures we implemented in 2023 to mitigate our environmental footprint and promote sustainability.


In 2023, we conducted a thorough assessment of our initiatives related to the National Biodiversity and All Ireland Pollinator Plan. During this evaluation, we considered potential modifications to our gardens and their impact. We enlisted the services of a new landscaper/gardener to collaborate with us. As part of our efforts, we’ve reduced the frequency of grass mowing at the

back of our building to support the natural habitat of bees. Furthermore, we’ve taken steps to maintain the growth of ivy and bramble on the side and rear of our building, which directly benefits bees. We have established a bee hotel on the left side of our garden. We had a beekeeper visit our office to emphasise the importance of specific flowers and plants that are advantageous for bees.


In 2023, we conducted an energy assessment of the chamber building, identifying key areas for enhancement. These recommendations encompassed transitioning all lighting to LED, a task that has since been accomplished. Additionally, plans are underway to install solar panels in 2024, with a focus on insulation to coincide with window replacements. Moreover, strides have been made in implementing control and monitoring measures for our heating system.


Cork Chamber recognises the importance of responsible energy management as a critical aspect of our commitment to sustainability, environmental stewardship, and operational efficiency. Our Energy Management Policy outlines our dedication to minimising energy consumption, reducing environmental impact, and fostering a culture of energy consciousness throughout our operations.


EcoMerit is a leading Irish environmental certification company which helps Irish businesses to improve their environmental performance. Through their certification programme, they concentrate on assessing waste, water, and energy impacts. Cork Chamber has collaborated with EcoMerit for several years, engaging in efforts to evaluate and enhance our environmental footprint while fostering sustainability. Our progress is annually assessed, with pivotal actions pinpointed and endorsed to bolster efficiency. It is with great pleasure that we maintained our certification in 2023.



For Cork to flourish, it must embody genuine warmth and inclusivity, offering equal opportunities to individuals of all backgrounds, beliefs, and identities. Cork Chamber and the broader business community have a pivotal role in promoting diversity, equality, and inclusion, which must be displayed through tangible actions rather than mere rhetoric. At Cork Chamber, we are dedicated to fostering diversity across our team, governance, operations, and engagements. Diversity, equality and inclusion serve as our guiding principles, shaping our approach to building a cohesive team where everyone feels valued and included. Through inclusive hiring practices, robust HR policies, and our comprehensive employee wellbeing programme, ChamberCare, we strive to cultivate an environment of belonging. Continuously seeking innovative ways to support the community and make a positive impact, we forge meaningful partnerships. Here’s a glimpse of initiatives we were involved in throughout 2023.


Ablity@Work facilitates connections between employers and skilled individuals with diverse abilities seeking employment. They provide support to companies aiming to foster inclusivity in their hiring practices. Cork Chamber is a staunch advocate for supported employment and the integration of individuals with disabilities into the workforce. We have participated in the Ability@Work programme and remain dedicated to encouraging other Cork-based companies to do the same.


Cork Access Network (CAN) serves as a platform to coordinate efforts in addressing educational disadvantage in Cork City. Cork Chamber is deeply committed to fostering an environment where Cork thrives as the premier business destination, with education for all being a cornerstone of this vision.

We acknowledge both the obstacles and the potential to improve access and diminish barriers to educational achievement for all learners throughout the city and county. In 2023, we proudly took on an active role as a committee member of Cork Access Network and also organised a workplace learning breakfast.


Psyched is a collaborative initiative led by Cork Healthy Cities and Counties, backed by Healthy Ireland, Cork City Council, Cork County Council, the Health Service Executive, University College Cork, and various community workplace partners. Similar to our physical well-being, our mental health can fluctuate daily. Educating ourselves about mental health in the workplace fosters environments that are supportive, nurturing, and receptive to growth and adaptation. We are delighted to have maintained our Psyched accreditation for another year.


We completed our annual evaluation as part of the commitment we made to be an inclusive employer under our Elevate Pledge with Business in the Community.


The Investor in Diversity Bronze Award is a recognition granted to organisations that demonstrate a commitment to promoting diversity, equality, and inclusion within their workplace. It signifies that the organisation has implemented strategies, policies, and practices aimed at fostering a diverse and inclusive environment. Cork Chamber were delighted to achieve this award in 2023.



Cork Chamber provided backing for various community initiatives throughout 2023 including, the launch of Pride week, the Cork International Film Festival, A Day in My Wheels, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, the Cork Migrant Centre, and Global Lync among others.



Finance, Partners & Sponsors

Financial Statements INCOME



For the year ended 31 December 2023

There are no items of comprehensive income in the financial year or preceding financial year other than those dealt with in the income and expenditure account. Accordingly, no statement of other comprehensive income has been prepared.

The financial statements were approved by the board of directors on 29/04/2024 and signed on its behalf by: 2023 € 2022 €

Income 3,099,684
Cost of Sales
Gross surplus 1,777,276 1,746,961 Administrative expenses (1,728,569)
Other operating income -Operating surplus 48,707 52,396 Other interest receivable and similar income - 4 Surplus before taxation 48,707 52,400 Taxation on surplus -Surplus for the financial year 48,707 52,400
(1,322,408) (1,086,984)


As at 31 December 2023

2023 € 2022 €


Creditors: amounts falling due within one year (823,405) (710,594) Net current assets 1,271,819 1,154,970 Net assets 1,647,466 1,598,759 Capital and reserves Revaluation reserve 124,751 124,751 Income and expenditure account 1,522,715 1,474,008 Total members’ funds 1,647,466 1,598,759

The financial statements were approved by the board of directors on 29/04/2024 and signed on its behalf by:

Tangible assets 367,135
Intangible assets 8,512
Debtors 235,498
Cash at bank
in hand
1,859,726 1,474,175 2,095,224 1,865,564





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