The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, and the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan TD, together with the Minister of State for Small Business John Perry TD showcased a Local Enterprise Office (LEO) in Fingal County Council while also announcing details of the improved new support service for micro and small enterprises.
A network of 31 LEOs across the country will now provide a system of supports for micro and small enterprises as part of the improved new service. As a result, micro and small enterprises can avail of:
· Mentoring programmes overseen by Enterprise Ireland
· Training and management development programmes overseen by Enterprise Ireland
· Pathway into the range of Enterprise Ireland supports for companies with ambitions to export
· Advice on and access to a range of services from across Government
· Companies with over 10 employees operating exclusively in the domestic market will be eligible for supports under the new system
· Access to the range of support services – including planning and licensing
· Access to the various training services offered by SOLAS
· Access to the Microfinance Ireland Loan Fund
Dissolving of county and city enterprise boards
As part of the reforms the County and City Enterprise Boards, 35 separate legal entities, will be dissolved. The CEBs current role is to support the micro-enterprise sector in the start-up and expansion phases and provide them with both financial and non-financial support: these functions will now be carried out by the LEOS.
In relation to the dissolving of CEBs, Mr Perry was keen to point out that the decision to dissolve them was part of the Government’s programme of public service reform and agency rationalisation and nothing to do with lack of performance. He stated: “ I should stress that by undertaking this reform process, it is not to suggest that the CEB model has been lacking over the last 19 years. On the contrary, the County Enterprise Boards have served the micro-enterprise sector excellently since 1993. However, since then there have been many changes to the social, economic and technological landscape of Ireland.”
The LEOs will now draw and build on the successful County Enterprise Board (CEB) model while also bringing together the skills, experience and resources of Enterprise Ireland, the CEBs and the Local Authorities to micro and small businesses.
Service level agreements
The Ministers also published a framework Service Level Agreement between Enterprise Ireland and the Local Authorities. Enterprise Ireland will negotiate Service Level Agreements with all Local Authorities, which will set out budgets and project evaluation methods as well as a series of demanding metrics and targets for the delivery of services by the LEOs, including the numbers of jobs and businesses to be supported. Under the terms of the
Under the terms of the Service Level Agreement Enterprise Ireland will have a significant oversight role in the activities of the LEO and, through its Centre of Excellence, Enterprise Ireland will ensure the appropriate matching and linking of national policy and programmes with local policies and programmes.
Action Plan for Effective Local Government
Commenting on the reforms Minister Hogan said: “The use of the local authority system to deliver business supports via LEOs is very much part of the overall reform of local government. We need a local government system that is more efficient and effective, more responsive and more representative, one that stronger and more cohesive, and that has the capacity to meet local needs and promote social, economic and community development in its widest sense. This is what Government has asked me to deliver in the Action Programme for Effective Local Government and I am pleased that another step in the overall programme is being delivered here today.”