Local Enterprise Offices are open for business

The Taoiseach, Tánaiste, Minister for Jobs and Minister for the Environment today officially launched the nationwide system of Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs).

The network of 31 LEOs will deliver an improved system of local enterprise supports to start-ups and small businesses across the country – with more staff, more funding, and more services being provided.

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Today’s announcement means that from today, people thinking of starting or expanding a business in every part of the country will be able to access the full range of State supports provided by different Government bodies – for example local authorities, Enterprise Ireland, Revenue, the Department of Social Protection, the Credit Review Office, training bodies – in one easily accessible location within the local authority.

The establishment of the LEOs will mean that all categories of business – including sole traders, micro businesses and small and medium sized companies – will have access to Government supports and advice. Previously some businesses – for example, companies who were too large to access CEB supports, but were not exporting and therefore did not qualify for Enterprise Ireland supports – fell through the cracks between different agencies.

Today’s event also marked the official announcement of the dissolution of 35 independent State agencies which previously provided supports in this area, a move which will lead to savings and reduction in bureaucracy. The 31 Local Enterprise Offices will not be independent agencies and simply be offices within local authorities – although policy direction and funding will continue to be provided by Enterprise Ireland and the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

Launching the national system of LEOs today, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD said: “The Government wants to make recovery local. That means supporting local businesses and entrepreneurs to create local jobs. We will do this through the new network of LEOs. Jobs are the top priority of the Government and there has been progress in the past year with over 1,000 jobs a week being created in the private sector. The vast majority of these jobs have been created in small, local companies. It is these new companies, employing just a few people that make the biggest difference in driving a jobs recovery. The LEOs will be in the front line in making recovery local.”

The Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore TD said: “We have been working, through the Action Plan for Jobs, to drill down into what small businesses and start-ups need. This work has produced initiatives such as the Microenterprise Loan Fund and Credit Guarantee Schemes that have allowed businesses to work their way through the recession. And on the other side, through Pathways to Work, we are taking a practical, labour market-focussed approach to what jobseekers need to shorten their journey back to work. With today’s launch of the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs), we are ensuring that the full range of state supports for all small business can be easily accessed in one place and at a local level”.

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD said: “A key part of our Action Plan for Jobs is supporting job-creation across every region of the country. In the past year we have seen major progress on this, with employment now growing in all regions, but we must now build on and accelerate that, and this year we are putting in place a range of measures like an expanded Regional Aid Map, IDA advance facilities and crucially the Local Enterprise Offices. The LEOs will deliver more services and better services to the start-ups and small businesses across the country that we rely on to create the jobs we need. Today is a good day for business and job-creation across every region of the country”.

The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Phil Hogan TD said “The establishment of LEOs in local authorities is a key component of the 2014 Action Plan for Jobs and is also part of a wider process of reform in local government and enabling local government to be the key agents for delivering effective and efficient services locally.” Minister Hogan said “We will have a reformed and re-energised local authority system in place following the local elections, and embedding the LEOs in local authorities is part of the wider reform programme”. Minister Hogan went on to say “Local authorities are already very active in supporting inward investment, promoting the commercial and enterprise interests of their areas, working with other State agencies and local business in supporting investment decisions.”