'A challenging new role'
A SIGNIFICANT cog in the new wheel of local government has been put in place with the creation of the Local Enterprise Office at City Hall.
A significant cog in the new wheel of local government has been put in place with the creation of the Local Enterprise Office at City Hall.
Local economic development has been entrusted to the County Council and its Chief Executive says it's a welcome if challenging development.
Ciaran Hayes stressed the Council had the capacity to contribute to Ireland's economic recovery.
Speaking at the official launch of the office Mr Hayes said: "Personally, I was pleased when local government was being tasked with such a challenging new role.
"In accepting that challenge, I wanted to make a very clear statement, hence the choice of location of the new Local Enterprise Office.
"I am deliberately using City Hall as the front end for the LEO.
"It is in effect a very public demonstration of the importance and prominence of the office.
"I want to make full use of City Hall and to bring out all that is positive about Sligo."
Mr Hayes said it was for this reason he was locating the planing, economic development, arts and culture directorate in the iconic building.
City Hall has been at the heart of local democracy for over 400 years, he said.
It was a magnificent building built on the site of Maurice Fitzgerald's castle in the 13th Century on a site prominently positioned within Sligo.
Mr Hayes said Sligo was strategically placed to benefit from an upturn in the economy, the signs of which were starting to appear.
"The local government sector has and will continue to contribute to the national economic recovery.
"It has already delivered over €800m in savings through efficiencies, public procurement initiatives and reduced payroll costs.
"The sector represents approximately 10% of the overall public sector workforce but has delivered more reductions that any other sector."
He said local government had managed thus far to retain service delivery though some services were currently under strain.
"There is a floor below which you cannot go and I think we have reached that point," he said.
Aside from the use of City Hall, economic development has been established as a corporate priority, he said.
"I am determined that Sligo County Council will play its role in the national economic recovery," he said.
Minister for Small Business John Perry said the LEO will act as the catalyst and the advocate for the establishment of a best practice enterprise culture.
He said: "The LEOs will pull together agencies, local authorities and the private sector, to support everyone with a business idea.
"No one should be turned away.
"The very least, that can be offered to someone, with a business idea, is to advise them on how to get it going. People who want to take that step, take that risk, deserve all the help they can get."
The Minister added that the vast majority of the 1,200 jobs created each week last year, were in small, local companies.
"It is obvious there is real potential to grow further jobs, by supporting local entrepreneurs."
Council chairman Joe Queenan said each business that could be helped through the LEO to become more sustainable, more profitable, more likely to expand, represented one step on the journey to getting Sligo and the country back on its feet.