I launched a public consultation process last November to seek as broad a range of views as possible on how the reform of the national micro and small business support infrastructure could best be implemented. The closing date for receipt of submissions was originally 19th December 2012 but this was extended to 18th January 2013, because of the level of interest. A total of 88 submissions were received and these responses will inform and influence the final shape of the LEOs and the services that the LEOs will provide. Many of the submissions make positive suggestions on how the reform could be rolled out effectively across a range of issues. These responses are currently being examined, including the positive response from the Crafts Council of Ireland, and will be factored into shaping the operational scope of the LEOs.
All submissions received will be published on my Department’s website on completion of the review and distillation of the huge response.
The Crafts sector plays an important role in sustainable job creation across the country. Taken nationally the crafts industry is a significant employer and it is estimated that the sector employs over 5,770 people. Both Minister Perry and I view the reform as an important opportunity to get a combined effort in behind start-ups and small business and we shall vigorously work to harness the potential of the new model.