URBACT EcoCore 2nd Transnational City Visit - Santo Tirso

Representatives of Fingal County Council, as Lead Partner on the Urbact EcoCore Project, visited the partner city of Santo Tirso in Portugal to learn about the city’s approach to sustainable economic development.  

Urbact Eco Core Santo Tirso Visit 2024

Representatives of Fingal County Council, as Lead Partner on the Urbact EcoCore Project, visited the partner city of Santo Tirso in Portugal to learn about the city’s approach to sustainable economic development.   Members of the Council’s project team were accompanied by Deputy Mayor Councillor Gráinne Maguire and Mr Anthony Cooney, Chief Executive Officer, Fingal Dublin Chamber, who are key stakeholders in the EcoCore Project which is focussed on the sustainable development of the Stephenstown Industrial Park in Balbriggan. 

Since 2002 URBACT has been driving change by enabling co-operation, knowledge sharing and the exchange of ideas and good practices between cities across Europe. The EcoCore Project is examining the green transition in small cities along strategic transport corridors. EcoCore seeks to support sustainable economic development through the incorporation of green and sustainable measures in industrial zones. The projects also seeks to explore carbon reduction measures in areas such as energy, sustainable transportation and promotion of biodiversity, this aligns strongly with Balbriggan’s designation as a Decarbonising Zone in the Council’s Climate Action Plan 2024 - 2029.

Fingal County Council, with the town of Balbriggan participating in the EcoCore Project, is the first Local Authority in Ireland to lead an URBACT Network. The EcoCore Network includes partner cities: Alba Iulia (Romania), Dubrovnik (Crotia), Kekeva (Latvia), Ormoz (Slovenia), Parnu (Estonia), Tuusula (Finland), Villena (Spain) and Santo Tirso (Portugal). All the partner cities in the Network face similar challenges and are working together to generate new approaches to economic and industrial development at local and regional levels, trial innovative solutions and consider issues such as diversity and gender. Over the next 2 years the EcoCore Project Team will align the project with the Council’s County Development Plan, the Future Fingal Economic Development Strategy, the Our Balbriggan Rejuvenation Plan, the Fingal Skills Strategy, the work of the Dublin-Belfast Economic Corridor Partnership and the Council’s Climate Action Plan as they develop an Integrated Action Plan with key stakeholders to promote the sustainable development of Stephenstown Industrial Park.

Urbact Eco Core Santo Tirso Visit 1

Santo Tirso is a city in northern Portugal with a population of c. 67,000, strategically located close to road and rail networks and in close proximity to Porto Airport and the port of Leixoes. The city of Santo Tirso has developed an international reputation as a business-friendly city, which is a highly attractive destination for business investment with innovative approaches to encourage businesses to locate in the city.  During the visit delegates were welcomed by the Mayor of Santo Tirso, Alberto Costa, and over the course of the meeting representatives of Invest Santo Tirso shared their expertise in investment attraction and marketing, along with a number of the city’s good practices with the network. The city has fostered excellent collaborative relationships with local universities and technological centres which support the training of the local workforce and the creation of new knowledge for economic activity. The transnational meeting was hosted in Fabrica Santo Thyrso, a Cultural and Creative Quarter developed by the city and focused on the city’s historical textile and fashion culture. Fabrica Santo Thyrso provides space for entrepreneurs and start-ups to innovate with a wide range of supports, while preserving the factory’s history and cultural ties with cultural and event space.

The Fingal delegation learnt about the good practices developed in Santo Tirso in the areas of economic and industrial development, marketing and innovations developed by local stakeholders in the areas of diversity in Tech, sustainable mobility, building innovation ecosystems and investment attraction. Delegates also participated in networking sessions and workshops exploring and understanding the challenges and opportunities of each of the partner cities. 

Deputy Mayor Councillor Gráinne Maguire met with the Mayor of Santo Tirso, Alberto Costa and the Mayor of Villena, Fulgencio Cerdán during the transnational visit.  Councillor Maguire said “ The visit to Santo Tirso gave me an opportunity to see first hand the innovative strategies that they are using to attract new businesses into the area and also provided me with a platform to share my knowledge with other European cities that are experiencing similar changes and challenges to Balbriggan.  The role of the Economic Development Section of Fingal County Council plays a pivotal role as the lead partner in this project and I witnessed the great work that is being done by the team and look forward to seeing the outcomes of this very important partnership as this project progresses.”

Aoife Sheridan, Senior Executive Officer, Economic, Enterprise, Tourism and Cultural Development Department said “Balbriggan welcomed our European EcoCore partners in November 2023 and it was wonderful to have the opportunity to visit our partner city Santo Tirso to see how they are approaching sustainable economic development in their city and see what we could learn and implement in Fingal. The city of Santo Tirso had a lot to share about investment attraction and working with business to create jobs in the local economy. Partners had the opportunity to critically assess the challenges and opportunities facing their cities and to discuss the best approaches to incorporating sustainable measures into their economic development projects. Partners got a lot of inspiration in Santo Tirso and the Balbriggan Project Team is looking forward to exploring the ideas and good practices we learnt in Santo Tirso with local stakeholders in Balbriggan. ”

Urbact Eco Core Santo Tirso Visit 2024 Aoife Sheridan