New Centre of Excellence for Micro and Small Businesses established as part of enhanced support model – Minister Bruton, Minister Perry.

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD together with the Minister of State for Small Business John Perry TD today [Monday] announced that Enterprise Ireland has established a new Micro Enterprise and Small Business Division to spearhead the delivery of an enhanced national enterprise support model to entrepreneurs and small businesses in 2013.  This is a key part of the Government’s plans to restructure the support infrastructure for small businesses and represents delivery of a key action under the Action Plan for Jobs 2012.

The Micro Enterprise and Small Business Division will develop a world-class Centre of Excellence providing best-in-class support to entrepreneurs and small business in the execution of a national micro enterprise policy. The new business support model will also see the establishment next year of Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) in the local authority network and these new offices will deliver services and support to the micro and small business sectors on behalf of Enterprise Ireland.

The Centre of Excellence will:
·        Operate Service Level Agreements between Enterprise Ireland and the Local Authorities
·        Drive progression of high potential companies from the LEO network to Enterprise Ireland
·        Develop and train LEO staff to ensure that core enterprise support skills are maintained and enhanced
·        Establish a new online support system which will respond to the needs of all entrepreneurs and micro-enterprises throughout the country

The announcement was made during a visit to the inaugural meeting of the New Frontiers Entrepreneur Network by Minister Bruton and Minister Perry.  Over 140 entrepreneurs are part of this network and are participating in the current run of the Enterprise Ireland New Frontiers programme.  New Frontiers is Ireland’s national entrepreneur development programme that is delivered at a local level by the Institutes of Technology and funded and managed by Enterprise Ireland. Its primary purpose is to accelerate the development of sustainable new businesses which have strong employment and growth potential and contribute to job creation and economic activity in regional locations.

Making the announcement Minister Bruton said: ‘Micro and small businesses are the engine of the Irish economy, and employ over 650,000 people. If we are going to create the jobs and growth we need we must provide better supports to this sector so that more of these businesses can start-up, grow, export, and create the jobs we need. That is why as part of the Action Plan for Jobs we have introduced a range of new measures aimed at micro and small businesses, including the €90million microfinance scheme and the €450million credit guarantee scheme.

‘A key part of this plan is ensuring that micro and small businesses throughout the country have access to the best possible range of supports at all stages of their developments. Today’s announcement represents the latest stage in the delivery of that plan. The creation of a Centre of Excellence in Enterprise Ireland will drive the delivery of best practice supports across the country, ensure that entrepreneurs and small business people have access to the supports they need so that they can expand, grow and create the jobs we need”.
Minister Perry said: “Small businesses are a central part of the economy and their ability to succeed and grow underpins our future potential for jobs, growth and prosperity. 98.5% of all firms are small and employ over 650,000 people throughout the country. It is important therefore, that we continue to focus on delivering a practical programme of actions that can achieve positive improvements in the operating environment for small businesses.

“Ensuring more micro and small businesses can start up, expand and succeed is a key part of our plan for job creation and growth. That is why the Government has decided to implement an ambitious reform in the delivery of services to small and microbusinesses. The Centre of Excellence and the establishment of Local Enterprise Offices to provide a high quality, innovative, first-stop shop support service for small businesses are part of the Governments vision to deliver high quality, accessible supports to the SME sector.”

Tom Hayes, Enterprise Ireland Head of Micro Enterprise and Small Business, added: ‘Micro and small businesses are the lifeblood of the economy. More than 90% of the enterprise base is made of small and micro companies and between them they employ 650,000 people. Entrepreneurship is critical to a modern developed economy and the lifeblood of thriving communities.  Under this new initiative Enterprise Ireland will oversee a new practical and accessible range of supports for entrepreneurs and small businesses that will lead to sustainable jobs and value add to the Irish economy and make Ireland the best small country in the world in which to start and grow a business’.