Minister opens Fingal Local Enterprise Office

Published 20/05/2014 | 05:32

Cllr Tom O’Leary with Oisin Geoghegan from the LEO.

IN what is being seen as a huge boost to fledgling local businesses, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, has officially cut the ribbon on Fingal's new Local Enterprise Office (LEO) at County Hall in Swords.

The LEO was officially opened by the minister last week, with the news that more small businesses in Fingal are in line for a financial boost, to help them to trade on-line. Details for the new 'Online Trading Voucher' scheme were also announced during the Minister's visit.

Under this scheme, 25 small businesses will be able to spend up to €2,500 on this voucher, or up to a maximum of 50 per cent of the relevant costs, to develop or upgrade their websites or to roll out their digital marketing strategies.

The Minister was welcomed to County Hall by the Mayor of Fingal, Kieran Dennison, County Manager Paul Reid, the Head the Local Enterprise Office, Oisín Geoghegan and members of the local business community.

A key element in the Government's Action Plan for Jobs, the new LEO is the 'on- stop shop' for all start-ups and businesses seeking supports from state agencies and signals the start of a new era in supports for SMEs, according to Minister Bruton.

Speaking in Swords, Minister Bruton said: 'The Fingal Local Enterprise Office will deliver more services and better services to the start-ups and small businesses across the county that we rely on to create the jobs we need – with more staff and more funding. Today is a good day for business in Fingal.'

'The online trading scheme being launched today is particularly welcome. Irish consumers spend almost €4billion online every year but 70 per cent goes to retailers abroad.

'There is a huge opportunity here for Irish SMEs and providing supports in this area is a great example of what the LEOs will be doing.'

Minister Bruton said: 'Start-ups and small businesses are crucial to our plans for jobs and growth. Two-hundred-thousand SMEs in Ireland employ well over 600,000 people and two thirds of all new jobs come from businesses in their first five years of existence.

'By creating the Local Enterprise Offices, SMEs across the country will be able to access in one place in their own county all the supports provided by the State through various Agencies.

'This is part of a range of new measures we have put in place to provide better supports for SMEs, including new schemes to provide funding, the supports for online trading and Circuit Court Examinership to make it easier and cheaper to restructure legacy debts.

'I am determined that with the right new supports more small and medium sized businesses can start-up, survive, grow, and create the jobs we need.'

Funding for the new Local Enterprise Office is provided by Enterprise Ireland, under a Service Level Agreement with Fingal County Council.

County Manager Paul Reid has welcomed the opening of the LEO and the impact it will have on local business and jobs growth.

'Fingal LEO will be at the front line assisting business growth and jobs, providing direct support and pulling together all the players – agencies, this council and the private sector – to support everyone with a good business idea and strengthen the enterprise sector in Fingal,' said Mr. Reid.

'By bringing the functions of Fingal County Enterprise Board into Fingal County Council, I know we can offer a more streamlined service for clients.'

'We aim to overcome the typical barriers to success that small businesses have faced such as access to finance or lack of management, marketing or planning skills.'

Oisín Geoghegan, Head of the Fingal Local Enterprise, said that the new on-line trading voucher scheme is just one way in which LEOs can react and respond to the ongoing needs of local start-ups.

'The needs of small businesses and start-ups are ever-changing and the range of support services available locally is also changing, to meet those needs.

'Through the Local Enterprise Office, we're helping to create a positive entrepreneurial environment, where small businesses can succeed and employment will be created.'

Mr Geoghegan added: 'Through the new voucher scheme, we're encouraging more small business owners and new start-ups to reap the business benefits of trading on-line.

'Research shows that small to medium sized businesses with a stronger internet presence, can grow faster and export more goods and services.'

Mayor Kieran Dennison said 'Supporting small business is crucial if an entrepreneurial culture is to develop and thrive and LEO Fingal will be of a key element of this support.'

Further information about the supports available to small businesses and start-ups is available from www.localenterprise.ie/Fingal. The deadline for applications under the 'On-line Trading Voucher' scheme is June 1.

Fingal Independent

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