Minister of State for Employment and Small Business, Mr Pat Breen TD had high praise for the entrepreneurship evident in County Wicklow on his recent visit to the Local Enterprise Office. The Minister met with Chief Executive of Wicklow County Council, Mr Bryan Doyle, Head of Enterprise LEO Wicklow, Ms Sheelagh Daly and Mr Michael Brougham, Director, Enterprise Ireland at the Wicklow County Campus in Rathnew, where he was briefed on the vision for enterprise development in the county. The Minister also met with three companies at different stages of development that have been supported by LEO Wicklow; Aoife Mullane of a.mullane design, who recently started a business manufacturing a unique range of fabrics for interior design, Michael Carney of Raindrop Drinks which produces a range of vitamin enhanced waters and Shane Byrne of Showoff.ie which produces highly innovative software products.
Emphasising the importance of small business to the Irish economy, Minister Breen said “As Minister for Employment and Small Business I believe businesses are critical for the Irish economy as a whole, and for balanced regional development. I am delighted to see first-hand the level of entrepreneurial activity in County Wicklow and the genuine talent, commitment and imagination of the entrepreneurs. The wide range of financial supports offered by the LEOs demonstrate the Government’s commitment to maximising opportunities for new start-ups and existing small businesses in Wicklow and around the country to enable them to improve productivity through innovation, investment, training and mentoring.”
The Minister was briefed by Sheelagh Daly on the extensive reach of the Local Enterprise Office Wicklow, which last year provided training supports to over 1,000 business people, provided one to one business advice and mentoring services to more than 400 businesses and engaged with over 1,200 students to develop enterprise awareness. During 2015 LEO Wicklow approved grant aid of €448,686 to 27 businesses and assigned a mentor to 44 companies. The 108 client companies which have been funded by LEO Wicklow created 74 net new jobs during 2015, growing employment by over 12%. In addition, with a keen focus on the potential offered by online trading, LEO Wicklow awarded Trading Online Vouchers to more than 80 small businesses.
Emphasizing the commitment of Wicklow County Council to economic development, Chief Executive Mr Bryan Doyle stated “Enterprise is recognised as a key priority for the County Council. Working in partnership with business organisations and the state sector, we have ambitious plans for the economic development of the County with a strategic focus on our key strengths and emerging opportunities. Wicklow has unique advantages that position us well both to grow our indigenous businesses and to attract inward investment, and above all to help us to realise our vision of a dynamic and innovative economy with a high quality of life for all”.
The Minister also paid a visit to the Wicklow Enterprise Park, where he met with Board and staff members of the company, as well as enterprises located in the centre. The Minister concluded his visit by meeting with Megazyme Ltd., which employs over fifty people in Bray.