A net total of 3,679 new full and part-time jobs were delivered in 2016 by the 6,846 small businesses from across the country that have been supported by the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs), according to the results of the latest LEO annual jobs survey published today by Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor, T.D.
The results, compiled by Enterprise Ireland, show that overall in 2016 a total of 7,883 new full and part time jobs were created in gross terms amongst LEO supported companies. A total of 40 LEO client companies became eligible for transfer to the Enterprise Ireland portfolio during 2016, representing a further positive outcome of LEO investment and support. The total number of people employed in LEO supported small businesses stood at 34,634 at the end of 2016 according to the survey.
The 31 LEOs nationwide, who are run in partnership by Enterprise Ireland and the Local Authorities, provide a ‘first stop shop’ for enterprise supports and sign-posting to start-ups, micro enterprises and small businesses locally in one easily accessible place.
Commenting on the 2016 LEO results, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, T.D., Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation said “I very much welcome the creation of 3,679 net new jobs in LEO supported companies during 2016. The LEOs have established themselves as a strong force in job creation in the regions with 10 new jobs created every day on average over the past three years in LEO client companies. That is a remarkable performance and is a clear indication of the strong job creation potential that exists in new start-ups and smaller companies right around the country. It also demonstrates that the supports structure for enterprise development at local level delivered through the LEOs is making a real difference. I want to pay tribute in particular to the people working in the 31 LEOs for their hard work in supporting their clients.”
The Minister added, “The LEOs are a key element of the Government focus on driving economic development in the regions. As the first-stop-shop for enterprise development in each Local Authority area, the LEOs are ideally placed to support entrepreneurship and job creation in every county. All micro and small businesses are operating in a challenging environment so I would urge them, and any budding entrepreneurs, to make contact with their LEO to explore the full range of supports on offer.”
Pat Breen, T.D., Minister for Employment and Small Business also welcomed the results and said. “The strong jobs performance by LEO clients last year is extremely welcome and testament to the can-do attitude in entrepreneurs up and down the country. In a challenging external environment at the present time we cannot afford to stand still and we must continue to support our start-ups and micro companies in becoming more competitive and agile. Under the Action Plan for Jobs this year the LEOs will roll out a Lean for Micro programme and new supports aimed at helping micro enterprises respond to emerging pressures such as the challenges posed by Brexit.”
Julie Sinnamon, CEO Enterprise Ireland, commented “Enterprise Ireland’s ambition is to help all regions to grow to the maximum potential based on their strengths and capabilities and the Local Enterprise Offices are vital in delivering on this ambition. In the 3 years since the LEOs were established, more than 10,500 net new jobs have been created by LEO client companies. I am also delighted to see that during 2016, 40 companies progressed from the LEOs into the Enterprise Ireland portfolio, demonstrating their ambition and potential to ‘Build Scale, Expand Reach’ into global markets, the key strategic priority for Enterprise Ireland.”
“The Enterprise Ireland Centre of Excellence will continue to work closely with the LEOs and our Local Authority partners to ensure a continuation of this strong performance. Local enterprise development is an important activity to cultivate and nurture the next wave of successful indigenous Irish companies. It is important that all local and regional development partners including the LEOs, the enterprise agencies, the Local Authorities, education and training providers, Local Action Groups, Community Enterprise Centres etc. work ever more closely together to ensure that the local potential for entrepreneurship and job creation is realised,” she added.
Speaking on behalf of the LEOs, Mr Kieran Comerford, Head of Enterprise, LEO Carlow and Chairperson of the LEO Network said “The strong results across the range of LEO performance metrics is a clear indication that the LEOs are very much open for business and delivering a high-quality service for their clients. The results demonstrate that the LEO supports are making a significant impact in maximising the potential of fledgling or developing micro and small businesses. So, whether you need access to finance, core business training or advice and guidance on overcoming the challenges that all businesses face, drop into the Local Enterprise Office for your area where you can access the support you need”.
Speaking on behalf of Local Authorities, Anna-Marie Delaney, Offaly Local Authority Chief Executive and Chair of the CCMA Committee on Economic Development & Enterprise said “The LEOs are playing a central role in local job creation nationwide as these results for 2016 clearly demonstrate. The suite of enterprise supports available to small and microenterprises and start-ups in every county provided through the LEOs complements the broader local economic development remit of the Local Authorities. I believe that with the LEOs in place, the Local Authorities are now better placed to encourage and support enterprise development.”
The LEO annual jobs survey monitors employment performance amongst micro enterprises employing 10 people or less that have received direct financial assistance through the LEOs. In 2016, 1,040 business projects around the country were directly supported by the LEOs to the value of €11.4 million.
A total of 40 LEO client companies transferred to the Enterprise Ireland portfolio during 2016, of which 32 were HPSU clients, representing a further positive outcome of LEO investment and support.
Alongside direct grant support, LEOs also supported hundreds of entrepreneurs and small businesses with training, mentoring and referral during 2016, aimed at developing business ideas and building company capacity. More than 27,600 people availed of training programmes facilitated by the LEOs nationwide, while almost 7,500 people benefited from one-to-one business mentoring.
During 2016, the LEOs were again to the forefront in supporting youth entrepreneurship, access to finance initiatives and getting more microenterprises doing business online. A record number of 1,842 young entrepreneurs participated in Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) investment programme in 2016; the LEOs guided 208 of their clients nationally in securing successful loan applications from Micro Finance Ireland (MFI); while a total of 1,161 micro businesses availed of the Trading Online Voucher Scheme through the LEOs last year.
Details on all the supports available for small businesses and microenterprises through the 31 LEOs are available at www.localenterprise.ie.