Local Enterprise Development gets €1m Job Creation Boost

Minister of State for Employment & Small Business Pat Breen T.D. today announced that an additional €1m has been made available to the Local Enterprise Offices for local enterprise development in 2016. Speaking at the LEO Donegal offices at the Enterprise Fund Business Centre in Letterkenny, the Minister said: “I very much welcome the €1 million additional allocation for the LEOs in 2016. The LEOs are delivering new business start-ups and new jobs in every region of the country and very crucially in rural communities outside the major urban centres. With this funding boost the LEOs can build on the strong performance to date and support new start-ups and micro businesses, against a backdrop of Brexit and other external challenges.”

“As already announced in Budget 2017, the LEOs will receive an additional capital allocation of €4m for next year. The LEOs are a key part of the Government’s job creation and regional enterprise development strategies. My message to Enterprise Ireland and to the LEOs in partnership with the Local Authorities, and to the other economic development bodies in each region, is that innovative approaches are needed to pool the wealth of existing resources at local level in order to support local economic development and job creation.” the Minister said.

Since their establishment in April, 2014, the LEOs have supported over 7,500 new jobs in local communities around Ireland. The LEOs are at the helm of a number of national programmes rolled out at local level including Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) competition currently underway. IBYE, now in its third year, had a record 1,842 applications this year. The initiative, which has a €2 million investment fund, is run by all 31 LEOs and is supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland.

Paschal McGuire, Enterprise Ireland Director for the North East and North West regions speaking on behalf of Enterprise Ireland commented: “The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) play a key role in the enterprise development ecosystem. In partnership with the Local Authorities and Enterprise Ireland they work to ensure that there is a strong pipeline of new start-ups and existing businesses that have the potential to grow rapidly and create new employment. The additional capital allocation for LEOs next year is very welcome.”
Kieran Comerford, Head of Enterprise LEO Carlow speaking on behalf of the Local Enterprise Offices, said: "The Local Enterprise Offices welcome the additional allocation in capital funding which will have a real impact on the ground for start-ups and small businesses in every local authority area. This significant increase in capital funding for 2017, together with the Action Plan for Jobs’ framework and the roll-out of local enterprise plans all mean additional resources for the local business sector. LEOs in local authorities will use these additional resources effectively to help address competitive issues for the sector by developing specific enterprise supports, such as programmes, funds and projects. Enterprise supports create opportunities, which in turn, create jobs in more local companies."

Joe MacGrath, Chair of the County and City Management Association, in welcoming the additional funding for the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) added: "The local government sector is playing a leading role in job creation and economic development at local and regional levels. Local authorities are central in coordinating the delivery of the Regional Action Plans for Jobs and leading the implementation of the Local Economic and Community Plans. Local Enterprise Offices play an important role supporting businesses and job creation locally. In 2015, they supported the creation of 3,533 full time jobs, delivered training for 27,187 participants and mentored 8,175 businesses. They are a key part of the range of activities local authorities engage in to improve the enterprise environment of areas throughout Ireland."

ENDS

Notes to editors:
• The additional capital funding for the LEOs in 2017 is a €4 million increase in the full annual capital allocation for 2017, included in Budget 2017. The total capital allocation for the LEOs in 2017 will be €22.5 million, an increase of almost 22 percent over the 2016 initial allocation of 18.5 million.
• An additional allocation of €1 million in capital funding has been made available to the LEOs to support a strong pipeline of projects ready to commence and be funded before the end of this year. This €1million additional allocation to the LEOs is part of the Supplementary Estimate for the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation for 2016.
• The 31 LEOs nationwide are the ‘first-stop-shop’ for providing advice, financial support, training, mentoring and other supports to those wishing to start or grow their business in each Local Authority area.
• The LEOs are operated on a partnership basis by Enterprise Ireland and the Local Authorities. They were established in 2014 as part of a range of reforms carried out by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (DJEI) in recent years, with policy responsibility for the LEOs resting with DJEI.
• The LEOs provide grant funding for micro-enterprise investment projects in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors, which over time have the potential to develop into strong export entities. There are three main categories of grant under which direct financial assistance is provided – Priming, Feasibility and Business Expansion. The LEOs also provide training and mentoring support to entrepreneurs and businesses to assist business development and performance.
• The LEOs also deliver national level initiatives such as Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE). Now in its third year, IBYE, which has a €2 million investment fund, is run by all 31 LEOs and is supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland. This year’s competition attracted a record 1,842 participants - a 32% increase on last year.
• The LEOs through appropriate referral also ensure that people thinking of starting or expanding a business in every part of the country are able to access the full range of State supports provided by different Government bodies – for example Revenue, the Department of Social Protection, the Credit Review Office, Education and Training Boards etc, – in one easily accessible location within the Local Authority.

In 2015, the LEOs provided a range of development supports aimed at building company capacity and performance among the micro-enterprise sector - they:
o paid out direct financial assistance to 984 business projects, totalling €10m.
o of these, 400 were priming grants for start-up companies.

In addition to direct financial assistance, the LEOs supported an even wider cohort of entrepreneurs and small businesses in 2015 through:
o 1,896 training programmes involving 27,185 participants;
o provision of one-to-one mentoring support to 8,175 participants;
o 399 referrals to Micro Finance Ireland of which 200 were approved; and
o promoting the Trading Online Voucher Scheme with almost 1,700 businesses participating (https://www.localenterprise.ie/Discover-Business-Supports/Trading-Online....

Details on all the supports available for small businesses and microenterprises through the 31 LEOs are available at www.localenterprise.ie.