- Access to finance
- response to COVID-19
- Support for digitalisation
- Fostering innovation
- Support of companies' growth
- Support of internationalisation
- Support of SMEs
Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs)
Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs)
The instrument caters for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) seeking information and support on growing their business in Ireland, or for any interested party seeking to create an SME in Ireland. The SME criterion implies that companies with over 10 employees operating exclusively in the domestic market are eligible for support.
Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) are local access branches of Enterprise Ireland, the government organisation responsible for the development and growth of Irish enterprises in world markets. They form a network of 31 regional support centres that combine the expertise of Enterprise Ireland and the broad reach of local authorities in order to provide services to all levels of business, including entrepreneurs, sole traders, micro businesses and small and medium sized companies, in accessing government supports. These supports include access to finance, management advice, and links to training and educational facilities which are often provided through SOLAS, the further education and training authority in Ireland.
The role of the LEOs is:
- To drive the development of local enterprises, putting local micro and small businesses at the heart of job creation in Ireland;
- To drive and support business start-ups and promote a ‘can-do’ business culture;
- To increase the job potential of new and existing micro and small businesses;
- To increase the number of innovative businesses with potential to export; and
- To be proactive in response to the needs of their clients.
Among the services delivered are:
- Mentoring programmes overseen by Enterprise Ireland;
- Training and management development programmes overseen by Enterprise Ireland;
- Pathway into the range of Enterprise Ireland supports for high-growth companies with ambitions to export;
- Advice on and access to a range of services from across Government, including Revenue, Credit Review Office, the Companies Registration Office;
- Access to the range of support services – including planning and licensing – offered by the Business Support units of Local Authorities;
- Access to the various training services offered by SOLAS; and
- Access to the Microfinance Ireland Loan Fund.
LEOs also run the annual National Enterprise Awards which highlight the successes of small businesses around the country.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Local Enterprise Offices made available a new 'Business Continuity Voucher' and expanded the 'Trading Online Voucher Scheme'.
The 'Business Continuity Voucher' designed for businesses across every sector that employ up to 50 people. The voucher is worth up to €2,500 in third party consultancy costs and can be used by companies and sole traders to develop short-term and long-term strategies to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal is to help companies make informed decisions about what immediate measures and remedial actions should be taken, to protect staff and sales.
Companies can apply via email to their local LEO. If the application is deemed successful, a qualified expert will be selected by the Local Enterprise Office to work with the company on their business continuity plans.
The expanded Trading Online Voucher Scheme helps small businesses with up to 10 employees to trade more online, boost sales and reach new markets. There is up to €2,500 available through the Local Enterprise Offices with co-funding of 10% from the business. The fund are part of the Irish National Digital Strategy.
Funding can be used towards adding payment facilities or booking systems to the companies website or developing new apps for their customers. The voucher can also be used towards subscriptions to low cost online retail platform solutions, to help companies quickly establish a retailing presence online.
Training and further business supports are also provided by Local Enterprise Offices, and businesses that have already received a Trading Online Voucher can now apply for a second voucher, where upgrades are required.
- National funds
- European funds
- European Funds (ERDF)
Local Enterprise Offices are incorporated into local government offices.
Public employment services
Since LEOs were established in 2014, they have contributed to a net increase of 18,640 jobs. Over €81 million has been provided in financing to LEO clients. Nearly 145,000 people have been trained via LEOs.
According to most recent LEO impact report, 36,666 people are employed across 7,164 LEO-supported companies.
The strengths of LEOs are in theory the same that County and City Enterprise Boards (CEB) were known for; having staff that are held in high regard and considered to be crucial to the development of SMEs in Ireland.
LEOs provide support for both existing businesses and start-ups. A list ofuccessful SMEs that have benefitted from LEOs can be found here: Startup stories
The LEOs replaced the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEB), which had their own network and offices. The CEBs had voluntary support from local businesses, which may be lost with the replacement of these boards with LEOs, as it might change the personnel involved.