Background and History

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Background and History

Wexford and Savannah, Georgia have a shared history going back 170 years when immigrants from Wexford fled the famine and settled in Savannah with the hope of a new start.

Three County Wexford shipping companies operated a direct transatlantic service between County Wexford and Savannah in the 1840s and 1850s and the Wexford diaspora quickly gained a reputation for making a valuable contribution to their adopted community. And so the Wexford-Savannah Axis began and the cultural links continued to flourish. Today Savannah hosts the 2nd largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in North America.

Dunbrody Famine Ship, New Ross, Co Wexford, Ireland.
Armstrong Campus, Georgia Southern University, Savannah, Georgia, USA.

First overseas campus in Wexford Town

More than a century later, Georgia Southern University undertook a major research project to uncover the details of how the Wexford-Savannah Axis developed. The publication of these findings, along with the encouragement of Wexford County Council, influenced Georgia Southern University to locate its first overseas campus in Wexford Town.

The new campus is located on the former Wexford County Council building on Spawell Road, with student accommodation located nearby in the historic Adoration Convent.

Pilot Initiative

TradeBridge was created based on this rich foundation. In 2017, Wexford Enterprise Association, through Wexford Enterprise Centre and in conjunction with its partners, Wexford County Council, Enterprise Ireland, Savannah Economic Development Authority (SEDA) and the World Trade Center Savannah, conceived and incubated the pilot TradeBridge initiative, which ran for two years over 2018 and 2019.

Its key aim was to create a trade corridor into the US for Wexford companies, as well as create a gateway for Savannah based businesses to export into Europe. 35 companies engaged with the TradeBridge pilot programme, representing the Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing, Agritech, Education and Information, Communications & Technology (ICT) sectors.

Pilot TradeBridge Route

“TradeBridge has surpassed what we could have hoped for. The USA is vast and difficult market to get a foothold in. The insights and contacts gained through TradeBridge have been fundamental to our quick progress in the USA via Savannah.”
Aidan Foley, CEO Raceix

Georgia Infrastructure

Regional Development Programme

With the success of the pilot initiative, three-year funding was granted from Enterprise Ireland under their Regional Enterprise Development Fund to expand upon the pilot initiative and advance it into a fully-fledged Regional Development Programme.

Today, TradeBridge encompasses the five counties of the South East of Ireland; Wexford, Waterford, Tipperary, Kilkenny and Carlow, as well as the 16 counties of South East Georgia: Appling, Brantley, Bryan, Bulloch, Burke, Camden, Candler, Chatham, Charlton, Effingham, Glynn, Jenkins, Liberty, McIntosh, Screven and Wayne.