The Local Enterprise Offices (LEO)s play a critical role in supporting microenterprises in the start-up and expansion phases throughout the country. The (LEOs) are the ‘first-stop-shop’ for providing advice and guidance, financial assistance and ‘soft’ supports in the form of training and mentoring to anyone wishing to start or grow a business.
This year the Capital allocation made available to the 31 LEOs is €27.5m, an increase of €5m on last year, which is being used to fund LEO clients by way of financial assistance and a range of soft supports such as training and mentoring.
Through targeted and seamless support, including the identification of any gaps in such support, especially in emerging sectors and start-ups, the LEOs can help to ensure a more diverse enterprise base. This is done through complementary advisory and support services such as financial incentives and soft supports provided by the LEOs
Under the Future Jobs Ireland strategy, the Government is tackling lower productivity levels in indigenous firms to achieve sustainable wage growth. The LEOs can play their part in this strategy by promoting indigenous entrepreneurship, especially in the regions; in encouraging clustering and stronger links between domestic and foreign owned firms; and help in assisting businesses to move up the value chain.
On the 12th July, I was pleased to announce a further €3M for two new funds through the Local Enterprise Office Network to support our smallest businesses across the country.
The first is a €2.5M LEO Competitive Fund to support LEO led projects in alignment with the framework of the Future Jobs Ireland strategy and the Regional Enterprise Plans.
The projects will focus on new approaches and emerging innovations that build on and strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem for the future throughout the country, demonstrate innovative solutions towards fostering and creating sustainable employment and improving productivity and build on collaborative and joined -up approaches to build on the synergies, added value and economies of scale which such collaboration can bring.
The second is a pilot, Competitive Productivity Fund of €500,000 which will be primarily aimed at s upporting domestically focused small businesses.
This fund will help small businesses to examine their current operations to identify opportunities in addressing productivity gaps, embedding “lean” practices, greening their business and in reducing waste. This initiative will also focus on training and capability development thereby enhancing customer experience, time and performance management.
The scheme will be open to applications from next October and will be aimed at enterprises employing less than 50 across a variety of sectors.
To further strengthen and develop the capacity of Local Enterprise Offices, in collaboration with Enterprise Ireland, we provide a comprehensive suite of supports for indigenous Irish businesses and entrepreneurs that will enable seamless and appropriate supports, addressing any gaps in such supports, for ambitious and growth-oriented firms thereby achieving an increase in enterprise productivity, innovation and resilience.