My Department and its agencies are working to provide extensive information, supports, schemes and advice to ensure that businesses are prepared for Brexit. These measures aim to assist businesses in Cork and across the country to identify key risk areas and the practical preparatory actions to be taken as we approach the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
The Government has held more than 100 Brexit information seminars and events since last September. The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs), including LEOs in Cork, are the first-stop-shop for anyone seeking guidance and support on starting or growing their business. In addition to offering support and guidance, the LEOs act to signpost businesses to appropriate supports. They also participate in and run events related to Brexit.
The LEOs in Cork have run 14 Brexit-related events to date. These include Brexit Advice Clinics on 9 and 29 October, which facilitated discussions of concerns businesses have about Brexit and the effects it may have. On 18 October, a “Take the mystery out of Brexit” event was also run in Cork, which offered a practical information session explaining key Brexit-related issues and identifying common risks to Irish businesses and how best to deal with them. Further events are planned for December, including a Currency Risk Management workshop, as well as more general business advice events.
The LEOs also offer Brexit-specific mentoring to businesses. Up to the 22nd of November, 1,221 LEO clients have received one-to-one mentoring solely focused on Brexit. Of these, 77 were from Cork.
The Brexit Loan Scheme provides relatively short-term working capital, for terms of up to three years, to eligible businesses to help them innovate, change or adapt to mitigate their Brexit challenges. As of 25 November, there have been 898 eligibility applications received, of which 810 have been approved and 214 loans progressed to sanction at bank level to a value of €46.68 million. The most recent quarterly report indicates that businesses in County Cork account for 9% of eligibility applications.
As the operators of the Scheme, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) have been actively promoting the Brexit Loan Scheme (BLS) and Future Growth Loan Scheme (FGLS). Officials from the SBCI attend numerous business-related events to inform and promote schemes. Promotional radio campaigns have been run at national and local level together with a digital campaign which included Twitter and LinkedIn.
Officials from the SBCI have also attended accountant workshops to promote the scheme and make this cohort of advisers aware of it. These officials have also been present at Brexit-related events around the country to promote the scheme.
My Department has a dedicated Brexit page on its website which includes information on the schemes available. Officials have put together Brexit Loan Scheme and Future Growth Loan Scheme information packs which are available through my Department’s the website.
The Department has also published a report detailing the supports available to indigenous enterprises, including Brexit supports such as the Brexit Loan Scheme and Future Growth Loan Scheme. This sits alongside publications like the Quick Brexit Guide for Business and Currency Risk Management for Irish SMEs.