Minister Breen said “The Local Enterprise Offices have shown the potential of small businesses to create jobs in every locality and the Government wants to boost that effort to spread recovery to all parts of the country. Companies are facing global economic challenges and the extra funding will be mainly used to work with clients to cope with those challenges, to investigate new markets and new opportunities and to boost the pipeline of new start-ups around Ireland. The microenterprises supported by the LEOs create between 3,000 and 4,000 jobs each year and thousands of client companies avail of training, mentoring, advice and guidance provided by the LEOs annually” he said.
Minister Breen added “The promotion of a ‘start-your-own-business’ culture is a key element of the Government’s job creation policy to reduce unemployment across the regions. The LEOs are leading that drive in every county and I am confident that the additional resources being made available to the LEOs will deliver results. My message here today is that with the challenges faced at the present time, never was it more important for local partners including the LEOs, the Local Authorities, Enterprise Ireland and others such as the Higher Education Institutes to work collaboratively to drive local economic development and job creation.”
The Minister was speaking at the Annual LEO Forum attended by representatives of the LEOs, Local Authorities and Enterprise Ireland. Amongst the themes discussed were strategic priorities for the LEOs in the year ahead, building on a strong performance to date; meeting the challenges and opportunities for microenterprises presented by Brexit; and the need for collaborative approaches to drive local enterprise development.
Niall O’Donnellan, Head – Strategy, People & 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 this 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 (CCMA), 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."