The County Development Plan includes a Chapter on Economic Development which sets out the spatial framework for economic development. Sustainable economic development requires balance in terms of location and diversity of economic activity, as well as the protection of the environment and people’s quality of life. The County Development Plan has the following key functions in relation to economic development:
- To set out a planning framework for economic development that is in line with the provisions of the Core Strategy;
- Ensuring an adequate supply of zoned and serviced land for employment;
- Developing a strategy for retail;
- Promoting and facilitating an overall improvement in the quality of life in all parts of the County;
- Supporting education facilities and the knowledge economy;
- Facilitating and promoting entrepreneurial activity;
- Supporting employment growth around Wicklow’s natural resources;
- Supporting key sectors for growth.
Since the adoption of the current County Development Plan, the economy has continued to improve. Census 2016 revealed that there are 59,134 persons at work, accounting for 41.5% of the population. Unemployment has continued to reduce with the total number on the live register amounting to 6,040 (July 2019) down from 9,459 in July 2016. According to the Census, the number of persons at work has risen since 2011 but is still below 2006 levels.
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Wicklow has many competitive advantages including its strategic location in the GDA with access to Dublin Airport and Dublin Port, strategic transport links including Euro Route E01 (M/N11) Belfast to Rosslare and the DART, highly skilled and educated workforce, proximity to a range of universities and third level institutes, strong and attractive towns and villages which have capacity to accommodate new economic development and expand employment opportunities, a thriving tourism industry and a strong creative and cultural industry sector.