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End of year out-turn for LEO

Tipperary Local Enterprise Office records good progress in local job creation in 2014

Since the official launch of the Tipperary Local Enterprise Office on 30 June 2014, significant progress has been made. The establishment of the Local Enterprise Office in the Local Authority was a major step forward in the provision of support for job creation in Tipperary. The LEO operates at two locations, Clonmel and Nenagh in addition to operating outreach clinics at various locations across the County. The Local Enterprise Office is assisted by an Evaluation and Approvals Committee which met on 5 occasions since the launch date. Since then, the LEO processed 45 applications for grant assistance and approved grant aid for 35 enterprises, 15 of which were new ventures. Grant assistance totalling €687,197 was approved which will leverage an investment in excess of €2.4m in Tipperary. Grants approved will lead to the creation of 58 jobs, 47 full-time and 11 part-time posts. The average cost per job was €13,089 and the average grant was circa 28%. The Local Enterprise Office had an available allocation of €386,808 to support enterprise and job creation which was supplemented by Refundable Aid. The grants approved were equally distributed between the north and south of the County and before year-end; the Local Enterprise Office had paid out €364,784 to 43 microenterprises. The Annual Employment Survey of LEO portfolio firms, undertaken before year end highlighted a net gain in employment levels and indeed preliminary figures showed that Tipperary’s small businesses have not only managed to sustain existing jobs but many have increased their employment levels over the past 12 months.

Under the Entrepreneurial and Capability Measure the Local Enterprise Office had available an allocation of €378,952 which was supplemented by course fees. A total of 685 individuals availed of training, management development seminars, grants and other soft supports. In addition almost 500 students participated in Enterprise at School initiatives supported by the Local Enterprise Office. The LEO has organised and participated in a number of enterprise awareness initiatives including ‘Who To Talk To’ which took place in LIT Thurles in September, information events at Lisheen Mine, Cloughjordan etc. 21 training courses were delivered across the County with 276 participants, 86 women in business participated in Network events and 54 firms availed of management development support including 8 that participated in the Food Academy Programme with Bord Bia and Musgraves. The Local Enterprise Office has available a suite of grants to subvent website development, participation at exhibitions, undertake export market assessment, training etc and before year end had grant aided 28 firms.

Tipperary enjoyed tremendous success in the inaugural “Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur” competition.   From an initial 28 entries, 13 individuals participated in the Boot Camp and 12 firms competed for the €50,000 county prize fund. Food Entrepreneur, Philip Martin won ‘Best New Idea’ at Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur National Final winning a €20,000 investment fund for his business in addition to €10,000 which he won at County level through the Local Enterprise Office. Philip Martin of Blanco Nino Ltd. is setting up Ireland’s first corn tortilla factory in Clonmel with the support of the Local Enterprise Office Tipperary. The Minister for Jobs, Richard Bruton T.D. made the announcement in front of 350 guests at the first-ever national final, held at Google’s European Headquarters in Dublin. Nenagh Entrepreneur Tom Ryan of Adsmart won the Regional final of the “Established Business” category winning €20,000 investment for his Company. Overall the County managed to secure €70,000 in prize money and a further €22,650 to cover training mentoring and promotion for young entrepreneurs. Supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, the nationwide competition formed part of the Action Plan for Jobs 2014.

Before year end, ten towns benefitted under the Tipperary County Council and Tipperary Local Enterprise Office Retail Support Programme. The Retail Support Programme is the first phase in the roll out of a series of supports by Tipperary County Council and Tipperary Local Enterprise Office under the “Town Centre Initiative”. A package of supports worth €25,000 was targeted at Chambers, Business Associations and Community Groups and involved a range of measures to help regain the commercial viability of retail businesses and to safeguard both new and existing jobs in the County’s retail sector. In addition, through Chambers and Traders Associations across Tipperary, the Local Enterprise Office will offer the sector, training, mentoring, management development, upskilling in social media, e-commerce solutions and On Line Trading Vouchers, GIBO (Getting Irish Business On Line) and other supports for businesses who lack a web presence, text or other scheme to attract new, retain existing customers and encourage increased spend in Tipperary’s towns and villages.

From September last, the Local Enterprise Office is administering Trading Online Vouchers which provide grants of up to €2,500 for e-Commerce websites. This scheme will help small businesses grow their sales, exports and ultimately jobs. Eligible firms must be registered and trading for a minimum of 12 months, with less than 10 employees and a turnover of less than €2 million. All small business sectors are eligible to apply for vouchers.

The Local Enterprise Offices has worked with a number of key state agencies and government departments, including the Department of Finance & Department of Communications to deliver a variety of new services to enhance the competitiveness, sustainability, development and growth of Irish SMEs. Local Enterprise Offices are now partnering with the NSAI (National Standards Authority of Ireland) to ensure the continued competitiveness of companies supplying the construction sector, in particular Steel Fabrication Companies. The construction industry is facing one of the most significant changes for a decade. Since July 2013 CE Marking for construction products, covered by a harmonised European standard or conforming to a European Technical Assessment is now mandatory, and it is imperative that Irish SMEs and companies now prioritise the development of systems, processes and procedures to ensure their compliance with this regulation and a new LEO grant scheme is being developed to meet the needs of the County’s smaller firms.

Under a partnership arrangement between Microfinance Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices, unsecured business loans are now available ranging from €2,000 up to €25,000 over a 3 to 5 year term at a reduced Interest Rate of 7.5% (7.8% APR) for LEO clients with flexible repayment terms. The loans are provided and underwritten by Microfinance Ireland and application may be made through the LEO office and will be assessed locally. Microfinance Ireland was established by the Government to provide additional lending to start-up and existing micro enterprises. The final decision for all loan applications is made by Microfinance Ireland.  Sole Traders, Partnerships and Limited Companies with fewer than 10 employees and an annual turnover of less than €2m are eligible to apply. In 2014 the LEO put forward 7 loan applications and to date 4 of these have been approved loans totalling €63,498.

The Local Enterprise Office is open for business and if you are thinking of starting or expanding an enterprise in Tipperary or need finance or assistance to sustain your existing operation do not hesitate to or 0761 06 5000 for advice, training, mentoring, grant assistance or loan finance.  Local Enterprise Office Tipperary is funded by the Irish Government and the European Union under the European Regional Development Fund 2014-2020. Let’s talk business!