The LEOs will continue to provide a range of supports for the micro and small business sector in 2017 and beyond. As the “first-stop-shop” for providing advice and guidance, financial assistance and other supports to those wishing to start or grow their own business, the LEOs will:
- Provide a sign-posting service to all relevant State supports
- Offer direct grant aid to micro-enterprises (of up to 10 employees) in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sector which, over time, have the potential to develop into strong export entities.
- Offer “soft” supports in the form of training and mentoring
- Assist with loan applications to Micro Finance Ireland.
As set out in the Action Plan for Jobs 2017, the LEOs will be focused on supporting companies in navigating the challenges presented by Brexit. A range of measures are being put in place in LEOs nationwide to supplement the existing LEO supports, including:
- Supports to facilitate micro enterprises to develop new internationalisation opportunities
- Roll-out of a national 'Lean for Micro' initiative to drive firm level competitiveness;
- Brexit-focused mentoring and training initiatives; and
- Local-level awareness raising and information sharing about Brexit.
Already, in the period since the Brexit referendum last June, the 31 LEOs nationwide have organised a range of events to assist their clients in meeting the challenges presented by Brexit, including training, seminars, workshops, cross-border business networking and mentoring.
I have asked my officials to compile a comprehensive listing of these specific Brexit-related activities and this will be provided to the Deputy over the coming days.