This Government has a clear focus on regional jobs and investment and the LEOs play a crucial role in this effort.
Funding through my Department enables the LEOs to respond with impressive jobs growth and initiatives to stimulate new ideas and new ventures locally.
In 2018 clients supported through the LEOs increased employment by 8,007 gross new jobs which resulted in 3,656 nets jobs being created across the LEO client portfolio bringing the total number employed to 36,666.
The LEOs approved grants to 1,259 clients in 2018, with over €18.2m. in funding to projects approved. Also, in 2018, the LEOs provided training to 34,907 participants. Of these, 3,944 participants took part in the LEO-run ‘Start Your Own Business’ programmes.
It is my priority as Minister for Business Enterprise and Innovation to see more jobs created around the regions. In 2018 alone, 84% of LEO Jobs created were outside of Dublin with 79% of the growth in LEO Jobs in the regions.
It is in that context, that the LEOs have continued to support, build resilience and scale up within their client base. I am informed that 171 of LEO client companies progressed to Enterprise Ireland along with 796 associated jobs. This is an increase from 60 companies in 2017.
In particular, having regard to the challenges presented by Brexit, I was pleased to announce additional funding of €5M to the LEOs in budget 2019. The additional funding will help to continue to build resilience and will enable the LEOs to continue to support a broad range of indigenous micro-enterprises prepare for both the challenges and opportunities presented by Brexit.
The additional funding provided will support a range of Brexit-resilient initiatives including customs training. With that in mind, I launched the LEO Brexit Customs Training Workshops in Cavan on the 25th February last with additional dates to be announced across the LEO Network nationally in the coming weeks.