Kilkenny County Council’s Local Enterprise Office continues to support the business community through COVID-19

LEO supporting business through Covid

Kilkenny County Council’s Local Enterprise Office continues to support the business community through COVID-19.

We are living through extraordinary times and everyone, regardless of age, gender or nationality is affected by the current global crisis. But many small business owners have the added concern that they can weather the storm.

“For a huge number of small businesses, survival is the over-riding objective at this time but despite the very real fears facing many business owners, there are supports available which are designed for businesses across every sector” says Fiona Deegan, Head of Enterprise with the Local Enterprise Office (LEO).

Over the last number of months, the LEO has provided a range of supports to many businesses across a range of sectors including business advisory sessions, training, one-to-one mentoring, financial assistance including Feasibility/Innovation Grants, Business Expansions Grants, Trading On-line Vouchers and Business Continuity Vouchers.

The Business Continuity Voucher, announced by the Government, was approved to291 businesses totaling €696,719 and provided €2,500 in third-party consultancy costs to be used for the development of short and long-term strategies.  Depending on the needs of each applicant, the voucher included very important measures such as preparing a business case for application to emergency funding, developing a business continuity plan, reducing variable costs, reviewing and exploring supply chain financing options, implementing remote working processes or procedures, and leveraging expertise in HR and ICT.

Trading Online Vouchers to enable small businesses up to 10 employees to trade online, boost sales and reach new markets were approved to 168 businesses totalling €385,452.  The vouchers, valued at  €2,500 can be used towards adding payment facilities or booking systems to websites or developing new apps. It can also be used towards subscriptions to low cost online retail platform solutions, to help companies quickly establish a retailing presence online. 

Kay Lyng, of KKajoux Jewels, an independent Irish owned handmade jewellery company, who availed of some of the LEO supports stated  “I have availed of the Trading Online and Business Continuity Vouchers and have found both to be excellent in helping me steer my business through these uncertain and changing times. The mentoring from the Business Continuity Voucher provided a sounding board to ensure that the strategies I am using to keep my business alive and thriving are closely aligned to current trading conditions. I am also getting invaluable face time with people who are experts in their field.  It has been very beneficial for my long-term strategies beyond coping with the COVID-19 fallout.  The investment provided by the Trading Online Voucher is allowing me to maximise the potential of my website.  As cashflow is uncertain at this time, the investment provided by the LEO is crucial to complete this project”.

Financial assistance in the form of Business Expansion Grants and Feasibility/Innovation Grants for eligible businesses, i.e. manufacturing or internationally traded services, have been approved to 16 businesses, totaling €319,190 with an associated job creation of 111 jobs over a 3-year period.

In addition, 633 people have participated in 43 online training courses & webinars

Fiona added “in responding to the disruptive impact of COVID-19, it is crucial that the decisions made are the right ones and the LEO also has a panel of skilled business mentors which can assist in navigating this crisis.  If you are running a small business which has been impacted by this crisis, please tell us where you need advice and assistance and we will do our best to deploy a mentor to help give you the guidance and support you need.  There may also be options to help overcome cashflow problems and mentors can give good guidance on these. Whether it is through banks or SBCI (Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland), they can guide clients, so they have the best prospects of putting together a strong application”.

“The LEO have adapted their services to the changed circumstances and are delivering all training programmes and webinars online.We are being as resourceful as possible to stay connected with businesses and other key organisations and individuals which are available to benefit small businesses. However, while this crisis has impacted many, the important thing now is to put a plan into place, make the tough decisions you need to make, do your best to weather the storm and seek out the supports you need along the way.”