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Following the news in recent weeks that the county and city enterprise boards are to be replaced with local enterprise offices, Enterprise Ireland is to set up a new micro-enterprise and small business division to support entrepreneurs in 2013.
The new model is part of the Government's plans to restructure the support infrastructure for small businesses, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD, and the Minister of State for Small Business John Perry, TD, announced this afternoon.
In November the Government revealed its plans to scrap the county and city enterprise boards (CEBs) and replace them with Local Enterprise Offices that will be set up in each local authority office.
At the time, it said that the offices of the CEBs would operate under a Serve Level Agreement with Enterprise Ireland.
Today's announcement about the new micro-enterprise and small business division at Enterprise Ireland will also signal the development of a Centre of Excellence to support entrepreneurs and small businesses.
The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) will be set up in 2013 in the local authority network. The Government said these new offices will deliver services and support to the micro and small business sectors on behalf of Enterprise Ireland.
As for the Centre of Excellence, its role will be to operate Service Level Agreements between Enterprise Ireland and the local authorities. Another aim of the centre will be to help high-potential companies to progress from the LEO network to Enterprise Ireland.
A new online support system will also be set up to help micro-enterprises and entrepreneurs.
"Ensuring more micro and small businesses can start up, expand and succeed is a key part of our plan for job creation and growth. That is why the Government has decided to implement an ambitious reform in the delivery of services to small and micro-businesses," said Perry today.
Enterprise Ireland's head of micro-enterprise and small business Tom Hayes said that over 90pc of Ireland's enterprise base is made up of small and micro companies, which employ 650,000 people between them.
"Under this new initiative Enterprise Ireland will oversee a practical and accessible range of supports for entrepreneurs and small businesses," he said.
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