Louth FAQs

Look at our question and answers below. Feel free to contact us if you still have a question.

What support can Louth Local Enterprise Office offer to small businesses?

We can provide a range of complimentary supports to enterprises including:

  • a locally accessible informal first stop shop for people starting or planning to start their own business;
  • a range of soft supports for businesses such as business information, advice, management training and mentoring;
  • financial supports including the provision of feasibility, employment and capital grants to eligible projects.

LEO interventions are targeted at projects in manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors employing ten or less people.

Are there grants for starting a business?

There is a large array of supports for starting a business including advice, information, training, mentoring, social welfare allowances and reliefs, and sometimes direct grant aid assistance for researching a business idea, employing people or investing in equipment.

Businesses that receive grant aid are those that have been identified as having potential for providing long-term viable jobs. Therefore, the support agencies are interested in the areas of business that are innovative, fill new market niches, replace imported products or services, demonstrate good management skills and have the financial viability necessary to succeed. Although most start-up businesses do not receive cash grant aid, all can avail of information and advice.

What types of projects qualify for grant aid?

To qualify for grant aid the promoters must demonstrate that:

  • The project is in the commercial sphere and is capable of obtaining economic viability without ongoing Exchequer or EU assistance.
  • The project is in manufacturing or internationally traded services.
  • There is a market for the proposed product or service.
  • Adequate overall finance will be available to fund the project.
  • That the person, group or company possesses the management and technical capacity to implement the proposed project.
  • Projects must have the capacity to create new direct employment either full or part-time or seasonal.

Projects will not be assisted where:

  • These are in areas of enterprise that there is already sufficient firms participating and the proposal would lead to job displacement elsewhere.
  • Areas of enterprise on the EU and National Sensitive Lists.
  • Areas of enterprise coming under other schemes or operational programmes.
  • Projects are contrary to national policy.
  • Projects involving primary agricultural production.
  • Where investment is in mobile assets.
  • Projects involving purely sales and distribution, for example, retail outlets will not be assisted.

Why are some businesses never grant aided?

Grant aid assistance is targeted only at very specific sectors, regions or activities that have been identified as most likely to provide opportunities for economic and employment growth in Ireland. The Local Enterprise Office cannot provide grants to business that may displace an existing business.

Extensive research has been carried out to identify the reasons for business failures. For example, some activities have already enough providers and the market cannot support any more. Other activities may only be viable if the company is of a certain size or can fulfil a specific product need.

Areas such as retail trade must compete in the open market to operate successfully and, as such, are never grant aid assisted as it would give that company an unfair advantage over others. Training in good management skills or technical improvements is often more valuable to these businesses in the long term.

If a project does not qualify for grant aid, can it avail of other assistance?

Yes. There are a range of other supports available to small businesses within the county.  These include advice, information, management training and mentoring.

Businesses that receive grant aid are those that have been identified as commercially viable, have job creation potential, operate in market niches or replace imported products or services. These businesses must also demonstrate good management skills and have the financial viability to succeed.

How do I apply for grant aid?

You should first contact our office to discuss your proposal in confidence with a member of our staff on (042) 933 5457.  The next step is to fill in a preliminary application form for grant aid. A Grant Application Form will be sent out to you via email for you to complete and return along with any other additional and relevant information as needed.

How are grants approved?

Upon receipt of a preliminary grant application you will be contacted by a member of the LEO staff. A meeting will be set up to go through your application.  The completed application is then put before an evaluation committee.  If your application is successful, you will receive a letter of offer and a contract by post.

I have an idea for a new business. Where do I start?

You need to do some basic market research to establish that a market exists, its size and how you can access it, before contacting your Local Enterprise Office. Next you need to do more market research and write a business plan. We also recommend that you participate on one of our Start your Own Business Training Programmes.

How Do I Write A Business Plan?

Before you commence any detailed work on a business plan it is necessary to define a number of important details. You should then map out the plan's structure and identify all the main issues, format and likely length of the plan. Shortcomings in the concept and gaps in supporting evidence and proposals can be identified before writing of the full plan commences.

You can look at our guidelines for writing a business plan for further information.

My business needs funding for capital equipment. Who will help?

The Local Enterprise Office may be able to help if you meet the criteria. If this is not sufficient for your needs, you should inquire from the State body responsible for promoting industry in your sector (for example, Bord Bia or Bord Iascaigh Mhara) whether your business qualifies for one of their schemes.

Where can I get a low cost or interest-free loan?

The main banks all have specialist units to support small businesses, some which may offer special to start-ups. The County Louth Enterprise Fund or Microfinance Ireland may be a source of finance for the entrepreneur who has unsuccessfully exhausted conventional funding sources.

Do I have to register for VAT?

Only if your turnover is in excess of (or you expect it to be in excess of) the thresholds €37,500 for services businesses or €75,000 for businesses selling physical goods. Below these amounts, you may choose to register but you should first obtain professional advice from your accountant. The Revenue Commissioners publish a "Starting a Business" guide and other leaflets, which may be obtained from any tax office, the Revenue Forms and Leaflets Service at (01) 878 0100, or the Revenue's website (www.revenue.ie)

What is De Minimis Aid

Business Expansion grants are provided under the European Commission Regulation on ‘De Minimis’ aid. De Minimis aid is limited amounts of State aid – up to €300,000 in any three-year period to any one enterprise. De Minimis aid is regarded as too small to significantly affect trade or competition in the common market. The amounts of grants are regarded as falling outside the category of State aid which is banned by the EC Treaty and, therefore, they can be awarded without reference to the European Commission.

However, a Member State must track De Minimis aid and make sure that combined aid payments from all sources to one enterprise in any three-year period respect the €300,000 ceiling. Therefore, you need to provide details of all other grant aid that has been awarded to you or your company within the past three years. Please note that a false declaration to show a figure under the threshold of €300,000 could later mean that you would have to pay back the grant aid with interest.