Local Enterprise Offices now support more than 7,000 Irish SMEs

18 Feb 2019

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New figures show nearly 37,000 people are working for Local Enterprise Office-supported businesses in Ireland.

Figures released last week show that the nationwide Local Enterprise Office (LEO) network is supporting 7,164 companies in Ireland, which translates to 36,666 jobs. This is the fifth year of employment growth for the LEOs, with 3,656 net jobs created in 2018.

Many businesses supported by their Local Enterprise Office

Since 2017, there has been an 11pc job creation increase in current companies within the LEO portfolio. The 31 LEOs were established in 2014 and their clients have created more than 18,000 jobs in SMEs across Ireland in the years since.

Last year, LEOs worked successfully with 171 of their client companies to help them transfer to Enterprise Ireland, along with 796 associated jobs, an increase from 60 companies making the transition in 2017.

With Brexit looming, the LEOs will be rolling out Brexit customs training across Ireland beginning in February, which will help small businesses learn about new import and export procedures.

Existing Brexit resources include mentoring, technical assistance for micro-exporting grants, the Brexit SME scorecard, the Trading Online Voucher Scheme and Lean for Micro, enabling SMEs to trade more effectively and competitively.

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, TD, described the LEOs as “a hugely important part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country”.

She added: “Not only are they helping small businesses to plan, start and grow, but they are also working closely with their 7,164 client companies to minimise their Brexit exposure.

“The LEOs will continue to play a key role in 2019 and beyond, ensuring that every small business has access to the support it needs.”

A vital resource for Irish SMEs

Chair of the network of Local Enterprise Offices, Oisin Geoghegan, said: “These figures highlight the important role that the Local Enterprise Offices are playing in creating jobs and sustaining small businesses all over Ireland.

“The LEOs are the first engagement any entrepreneur or small business owner should have when they want to develop or grow their idea or company.”

Mark Christal of the regions and entrepreneurship division at Enterprise Ireland said that the role that LEOs play is “getting more and more crucial as many of these companies with global ambition look to build scale and expand reach.

“The Local Enterprise Office is working with these companies to ensure they are in the best possible position to innovate, compete and diversify in the global market.”

Growing interest in international expansion

Pat Breen, TD, the Minister for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, noted that the increased transfer of LEO companies to Enterprise Ireland last year shows that a growing number of Irish SMEs are aiming to scale up internationally.

He also echoed the importance of the Brexit supports LEOs provide, adding: “The Local Enterprise Offices will continue to support our indigenous companies through the provision of one-to-one mentoring, training, specialist workshops and Brexit preparedness supports.”

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects