The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) are the ‘first-stop-shop’ for advice and guidance, financial assistance and other supports for anyone intending to start or grow a business.
My Department, through the LEOs, has continued to develop a range of supports to help local businesses in preparation for the challenges of Brexit
In that regard, both the Louth and Meath LEOs encourage a strong spirit of enterprise throughout their respective County areas and ensure that all micro-businesses in the Counties are supported on the basis of needs and qualifying criteria equally. Notwithstanding that the offices of LEO Louth are located in the County Council Offices in Dundalk, I am assured that the full range of programmes and activities that it delivers are dispersed evenly throughout the County. Similarly, LEO Meath provides the same business supports throughout the County having engaged in numerous mentor assignments and training programmes for LEO clients based in East Meath.
I note that the Deputy has enquired about funding for a new LEO to cover the Drogheda and East Meath region. He will be aware that when the LEO network was instituted under the County Enterprise Boards (Dissolution) Act, 2014, a LEO was legally established on the basis of the functional area of the 31 County and City Councils in Ireland. This model, in operation for over 5 years, has been the platform for ongoing and incremental success in terms of client engagement and strong local jobs growth.
There are a wide range of Brexit supports available to further strengthen the capacity of our microenterprise sector such as:
- The Brexit Mentor Programme was developed for businesses to work with an experienced mentor on a one-to-one basis to identify key areas of exposure within their business and to maximise potential opportunities arising from Brexit.
- Prepare Your Business for Customs is a one-day interactive workshop, run regionally by Local Enterprise Offices, which provides all businesses with a better understanding of the potential impacts, formalities and procedures to be adopted when trading with a country which is outside the Single Market and Custom Unions.
- LEAN for Micro encourages businesses to adopt Lean business principles in their businesses to increase performance and competitiveness. Applying LEAN principles will help to build resilience to be better positioned to cope with the challenges and opportunities of Brexit.
- Technical Assistance for Micro-Exporters (TAME) Grant supports clients to explore and develop new export market opportunities, such as participation in international trade fairs and development of export related marketing and websites. With a focus on helping companies to diversify, this scheme is a match-funding opportunity with up to €2,500 available.
- Research and Development Tax credit aimed at small and micro firms, provides for an increase from 25% to 30% which may be claimed and for improved options with regard to claiming the payable credit. These firms will also be able to claim the credit for expenditure incurred in advance of commencing to trade.