The County and City Enterprise Boards (CEB) restructuring project is the first radical reform of the system for the delivery of State support to micro and small businesses since the establishment of the CEBs twenty years ago. In the meantime, there have been many changes to the social, economic and technological landscape of Ireland. It is incumbent on Government to ensure that State supports are delivered in the most integrated, focussed and seamless way possible. The proposed reform is a major commitment in the Programme for Government and a core part of the Action Plan for Jobs.
This reform will bring about a new level of engagement and interaction at both national and local level in relation to enterprise support and stimulation and economic recovery and growth. The proposed reforms offer a huge opportunity to leverage the skills, resources and experience of the CEBs, Local Authorities and local business community to create a national approach to the sector allowing for seamless progression, innovative performance, streamlined delivery and increased employment.
The creation of a First-Stop-Shop at local level for the support of small and micro business will bring local enterprise support into an integrated national network of Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) delivering enterprise policy to the highest standards, offering seamless progression for small business with potential to the existing national programmes run by Enterprise Ireland (EI). The LEOs will deliver the combined functions of CEBs and the Local Authority business support functions as well as developing an enhanced service to business at local level. The new Centre of Excellence within EI will be responsible for developing an improved environment for small and micro business and bringing this sector into the heart of national enterprise policy. As Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation I will retain responsibility for policy, and a key feature of this new structure will be the consistent application of policy across all LEOs, from the evaluation of applications for funding support, to the spending of budgets allocated.
In relation to the formal dissolution of the CEBs, officials of my Department are continuing, in conjunction with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, to develop draft legislation with a view to enactment before summer recess. In addition, a Framework Service Level Agreement (SLA) between EI and the Local Authorities has been finalised and the LEO branding and associated logo has been designed. Within the next couple of weeks, I will publish the SLA and launch the branding and logo, both of which are tangible steps to the full roll out of the new infrastructure.