Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Questions (184)

Robert Troy


184. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the financial support avenues available to a start-up business which will be located in rural County Westmeath and will immediately create five to ten permanent positions. [22422/19]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

The Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Westmeath is the ‘first-stop-shop’ for advice and guidance, financial assistance and other supports if you intend to start or grow your own business.

The LEO in Westmeath provides a ‘signposting’ service in relation to all relevant State supports available through agencies such as Revenue, the Department of Social Protection, Education and Training Boards, the Credit Review Office and MicroFinance Ireland. The LEOs can also offer advice and guidance in areas such as Local Authority rates, Public Procurement and other regulations affecting business.

The LEO Westmeath can offer direct grant aid to microenterprises (10 employees or fewer) in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors which, over time, have the potential to develop into strong export entities. Subject to certain eligibility criteria, the LEOs can provide financial assistance within three main categories: Feasibility Grants (investigating the potential of a business idea); Priming Grants (to part-fund a start-up); and Business Development Grants for existing businesses that want to expand. (It should be noted that the LEOs do not provide direct grant-aid to areas such as retail, personal services, local professional services, construction/local building services, as it may give rise to the displacement of existing businesses). In addition, there is a Technical Assistance Grant available for eligible micro-exporter applicants who are seeking to explore alternative markets for their product or service.

Along with the core LEO priming and business development grants, the LEOs are now offering a Technical Assistance for Micro-exporters (TAME) grant, which is designed to help LEO clients to find new markets and exports by part-funding expenditure incurred investigating and researching export markets, e.g. exhibiting at Trade Fairs, preparing marketing material and developing websites specifically targeting export markets.

Micro-enterprises may also avail of the Trading Online Voucher Scheme (TOVS) from the LEO Westmeath. The Scheme offers the opportunity for businesses to develop their website or digital marketing strategy by availing of vouchers of up to €2,500 or 50% of eligible expenditure.

Anyone with a viable business proposal can also use the LEO Westmeath to make an application to MicroFinance Ireland, which offers support in the form of loans of up to €25,000 to start-ups with viable business propositions that do not meet the conventional risk criteria applied by the banks. Successful applicants can avail of a more favorable interest rate from MFI if they make their application through the LEO.