On Wednesday 21st April, The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar TD, announced the annual results of the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) for 2020 which showed that over 7,500 companies employing over 35,000 people are now supported by the LEOs nationally.

 The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar TD said: “Our Local Enterprise Offices play a really important role in fostering enterprise across the country. In the face of unprecedented challenges, our LEOs managed to pivot and adapt quickly, to help their network of local businesses endure the crisis of the pandemic. When small businesses needed help more than ever, their virtual door was always open and they were able to train, fund and mentor more businesses last year than ever before.

 “LEOs are at the very heart of business in communities across the country. The work they do is invaluable and I want to express my particular appreciation to all LEO staff for their professionalism and commitment. I know 2020 was a really difficult year for them and for the businesses they help. The coming months will be similarly busy as we reopen our economy and help businesses get back on their feet. I know LEOs will be to the forefront as we rebuild after the pandemic.”

 Supported by the Government, Local Enterprise Office supported companies created 5,585 new jobs in 2020.  Despite the new jobs created, there was a net jobs loss of 1,494 across the LEO portfolio of client companies in what was a challenging year for small businesses.

 The Local Enterprise Offices were to the fore in supporting small businesses across the country in 2020, helping thousands to pivot online or adapt their products and services through new Government supports introduced as part of the July Stimulus Package.  The LEOs approved 13,091 Trading Online Vouchers to assist businesses get online to trade or improve their existing online offering. Locally 302 trading online vouchers were approved to Kilkenny based businesses and proved to be a vital resource for many helping to reach their customers.      

The Local Enterprise Offices are now supporting 35,236 jobs across 7,529 companies. 2020 also saw the successful transition of 133 companies from the Local Enterprise Offices to Enterprise Ireland as they continue to scale and look to international markets. During the summer of 2020, Kilkenny based company LoanITT Ltd transferred to Enterprise Ireland as a High Potential Start Up and secured investment through Enterprise Ireland and the Halo Business Angel Network South East based syndicate managed by the South East Business Innovation Centre.

The LEOs provided significant training and mentoring to small businesses in 2020 to help them navigate the particularly difficult trading environment created by Covid-19 and Brexit.  Last year, the Local Enterprise Office Kilkenny trained over 1,676 entrepreneurs and 1,133 businesses availed of mentoring.

 In 2020, over €22million was approved by Local Enterprise Offices nationally  to clients for projects across the year to help improve their businesses in a range of areas.  This figure was up from €20million in 2019 and is the largest amount of approved funding by the Local Enterprise Offices to small businesses to date.

 Fiona Deegan, Head of Enterprise, Local Enterprise Office Kilkenny, said; 2020 was a challenging year for everyone, and small businesses were no different.  The Local Enterprise Offices were to the fore in trying to help these companies pivot or adapt their businesses to sustain through the issues caused by Covid and Brexit.  The figures show the level of support that was given, both financially and through training, mentoring and significantly, the work done in getting small companies online to ensure they could continue to reach their customers.  While the challenging environment still exists for many, we have also seen the best of Irish business.  Whether that is in their innovations to help in the fight against Covid or companies pivoting their businesses quickly to adapt and survive or seeing that strong sense of local pride with companies helping each other in their own communities and the Local Enterprise Offices have tried to help where we can along the way.” 

 The Local Enterprise Office as part of Kilkenny County Council and funded through Enterprise Ireland are the first stop shop for entrepreneurs and small businesses in providing a range of supports including financial, mentoring, training and sector specific expertise to help guide businesses at any stage of their development. 


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