25 State bodies come together for free one-stop-shop events for small businesses in Limerick, Galway and Cork

The Minister for Small Business, John Perry T.D., launched a series of one-stop-shop events for existing and potential entrepreneurs called ‘Taking Care of Business’. Attending one of these free half-day events will allow people thinking of starting a business and existing small business owners and managers to find out about what advice and supports are available from across the public sector and to meet experts from a broad range of public bodies in an informal setting.

There will be two separate strands running concurrently with presentations from State bodies in one area and information stands manned by staff from these bodies in a separate area. The concise presentations will focus on assistance available to help entrepreneurs develop their businesses as well as key regulatory requirements. Experts will be available at the information stands to speak directly to attendees and answer questions throughout the event.

Minister Perry said: “‘Taking Care of Business’ is part of a wider effort to communicate better with business and promote awareness and understanding of the full range of Government supports that are available for the SME sector. Two thirds of all new jobs come from start-up businesses in the first five years of their existence, so it is essential for Government to support new businesses in order to grow employment.

“The 2014 ‘Taking Care of Business’ roadshow follows on from the successful 2013 pilot, which took place in Dublin in October last year. Following the pilot we received extremely positive feedback from attendees. This year ‘Taking Care of Business’ will again bring together, 25 Government agencies for free half-day events in Limerick, Galway and Cork. These free events will provide local business start-ups and small businesses with the information they need on the extensive range of advice, grants and other supports that are on offer to SMEs from Government agencies, to help people start and grow their businesses.”

The events will take place during the spring with the involvement of a range of Ministers as well as local and national figures from business:

Limerick, 11th March, Strand Hotel

o Opening remarks by Brian Hayes TD, Minister for Public Reform and the Office of Public Works

o Helen O’Donnell – entrepreneur, Chairperson of Limerick Tidy Towns and Limerick Person of the Year 2012 – will chair one of the presentation sessions.

Galway, 25th March, Radisson Blu Hotel

o Opening remarks by Ciaran Cannon TD, Minister for Training and Skills

o Declan Dooley – Managing Director of the Galway Independent and Vice President of Galway Chamber of Commerce – will chair a presentation session.

Cork, 1st April, Silver Springs Hotel

o Opening remarks by Sean Sherlock TD, Minister for Research and Innovation

o Bobby Kerr – entrepreneur, businessman and founding ‘Dragon’ on RTÉ’s Dragons’ Den – will chair a presentation session.

This initiative of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation will bring together 25 State bodies in each location and builds on a pilot event in October 2013 in Dublin Castle, which was attended by 500 people. The feedback from the pilot event was overwhelmingly positive:

• 89% of attendees surveyed found the format mixing presentations and information stands worked well;

• 80% agreed that their business would benefit from having attended the event;

• The broad range of agencies in one location and the engaging presentations were cited most often as the best aspects of the event.

The most frequent suggestion for improvement was to hold regional events, which is exactly what is now planned. The events in Limerick, Galway and Cork are being organised in close co-operation with the local City and County Councils, CEBs and Chambers of Commerce. A number of representative bodies from industry are supporting the event and will also be available to talk to attendees on the day.

The State offices and agencies represented will provide information across a wide range of areas, including:

• Access to Finance for SMEs;

• Assistance and supports from enterprise agencies and Local Authorities;

• Tax, employment and Health & Safety obligations;

• Legal requirements for setting up and running a business;

• Requirements in areas such as food and environmental safety;

• Advice on government procurement and intellectual property.

Minister Sherlock said: “One of the strengths of ‘Taking Care of Business’ is its informality; face-to-face contact is a crucial ingredient and attendees can ask questions they might be hesitant to ask in a different setting. We need to give people the confidence to go out and create jobs through their businesses. We also need our small businesses to be ambitious with a focus on innovation and exports, so I am very glad to see that the Patents Office, Enterprise Ireland and the Enterprise Europe Network will be on hand at the events.”

Minister Hayes said: “The Government has prioritised 2014 as the year for jobs. This demands addressing issues around access to finance for small business. A special focus at ‘Taking Care of Business’ will be on the full range of access to finance supports provided by Government, including through Microfinance Ireland and the Credit Review Office.”

Minister Cannon said: “Having the right skills is essential for the success of entrepreneurs, employers and employees; people attending a ‘Taking Care of Business’ event can find out about the full range of Government programmes to support skills development, for example the Springboard initiative offers free part-time courses leading to qualifications in growing enterprise sectors, while the ICT Conversion Programme offers free intensive courses leading to a degree level award and a work placement with an industry partner.”

A further ‘Taking Care of Business’ event will be held in the Printworks Conference Centre in Dublin Castle on October 16th.

To register for one of the regional events and for more details including the running order of presentations and the full list of State bodies attending, please visit www.takingcareofbusiness.ie.

Over 800 people registered their interest for the 500 places available at the pilot event in Dublin last year: Early booking is strongly advised as there are a limited number of places available in each location.