The Local Enterprise Office is the First Stop Shop for anyone seeking information & support on growing or starting a business in Ireland
The 31 Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) were launched in 2014 to combine new supports with business services previously delivered by County Enterprise Boards and Local Authorities in a “first-stop shop” for enterprise support.
LEOs are located in Local Authority offices with policy direction and ERDF funding provided by Enterprise Ireland and the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. Each LEO develops a local plan for boosting enterprise, with targets including new business start-ups, business expansions and jobs created or sustained as well as wider economic impacts such as exports, mentoring, training and enterprise promotion.
LEOs provide advice, information and support to all categories of business – including sole traders, micro businesses and small and medium sized companies –creating access to Government supports and advice.
LEO provides: direct financial supports to micro businesses, advice on the range of alternative funding options available, business information and advisory services, high-quality training and mentoring progression pathways for high-potential companies in the respective region to access Enterprise Ireland, advice on local authority regulations, planning, accessibility, environment, procurement and other issues affecting a client business, connections to Department of Social Protection: Enterprise Supports; Microfinance Ireland: Business Loans; Revenue: Start Up Relief for Entrepreneurs; Education & Training Boards etc
There are 170 staff across the 31 offices in the LEO system. This is supported by a further 40 Local Authority staff and a Graduate Recruitment Programme. Enterprise Ireland operates a Centre of Excellence to support office. The capital allocation to the programme in 2017 was €22.5M (Measure 1 &2)
Evidence of success
A net total of 3,700 new jobs were delivered in 2017 by start-ups and small businesses from across the country that have been supported by the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs). This brings the total number of new jobs created by LEO-backed companies nationwide to 15,000 since the LEOs were set up in 2014. A new client portfolio management model will be rolled out this year nationally to the LEOs by Enterprise Ireland, which will support portfolio performance and potential.
Potential for learning or transfer
Based on our exchange experiences within the RATIO project and our own regional analysis we have observed the difficulties of communicating with and engaging SMEs in rural areas across Europe in the context of innovation, collaboration and competitiveness supports.
Awareness of and access to public supports are significant challenges hampering innovation and research in rural firms. The LEO network is a comprehensive approach to SME engagement at local level that creates effective access to state enterprise support services.
It works to develop local networks and interaction among firms, as well as building capacity through direct supports to micro-enterprises. There is a balance between the delivery of national policy and best practices and the use of local knowledge in devising strategies that fit local needs and capacities.
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