Local Enterprise Offices are open for business

29 April 2014

New Offices will provide improved services to start-ups and small businesses across the country

Start-ups create two-thirds of all new jobs across the economy

The Taoiseach, Tánaiste, Minister for Jobs and Minister for the Environment today [Tuesday 29 April 2014] officially launched the nationwide system of Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs).

The network of 31 LEOs will deliver an improved system of local enterprise supports to start-ups and small businesses across the country – with more staff, more funding, and more services being provided.

Today’s announcement means that from today, people thinking of starting or expanding a business in every part of the country will be able to access the full range of State supports provided by different Government bodies – for example local authorities, Enterprise Ireland, Revenue, the Department of Social Protection, the Credit Review Office, training bodies – in one easily accessible location within the local authority.

The establishment of the LEOs will mean that all categories of business – including sole traders, micro businesses and small and medium sized companies – will have access to Government supports and advice. Previously some businesses – for example, companies who were too large to access CEB supports, but were not exporting and therefore did not qualify for Enterprise Ireland supports – fell through the cracks between different agencies.

Today’s event also marked the official announcement of the dissolution of 35 independent State agencies which previously provided supports in this area, a move which will lead to savings and reduction in bureaucracy. The 31 Local Enterprise Offices will not be independent agencies and simply be offices within local authorities – although policy direction and funding will continue to be provided by Enterprise Ireland and the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

Launching the national system of LEOs today, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD said: "The Government wants to make recovery local.  That means supporting local businesses and entrepreneurs to create local jobs.  We will do this through the new network of LEOs.  Jobs are the top priority of the Government and there has been progress in the past year with over 1,000 jobs a week being created in the private sector.  The vast majority of these jobs have been created in small, local companies.  It is these new companies, employing just a few people that make the biggest difference in driving a jobs recovery.  The LEOs will be in the front line in making recovery local."

The Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore TD said: “We have been working, through the Action Plan for Jobs, to drill down into what small businesses and start-ups need.  This work has produced initiatives such as the Microenterprise Loan Fund and Credit Guarantee Schemes that have allowed businesses to work their way through the recession.   And on the other side, through Pathways to Work, we are taking a practical, labour market-focussed approach to what jobseekers need to shorten their journey back to work. With today’s launch of the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs), we are ensuring that the full range of state supports for all small business can be easily accessed in one place and at a local level”.

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD said: “A key part of our Action Plan for Jobs is supporting job-creation across every region of the country. In the past year we have seen major progress on this, with employment now growing in all regions, but we must now build on and accelerate that, and this year we are putting in place a range of measures like an expanded Regional Aid Map, IDA advance facilities and crucially the Local Enterprise Offices. The LEOs will deliver more services and better services to the start-ups and small businesses across the country that we rely on to create the jobs we need. Today is a good day for business and job-creation across every region of the country”.

The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Phil Hogan TD said “The establishment of LEOs in local authorities is a key component of the 2014 Action Plan for Jobs and is also part of a wider process of reform in local government and enabling local government to be the key agents for delivering effective and efficient services locally.”  Minister Hogan said “We will have a reformed and re-energised local authority system in place following the local elections, and embedding the LEOs in local authorities is part of the wider reform programme”.  Minister Hogan went on to say “Local authorities are already very active in supporting inward investment, promoting the commercial and enterprise interests of their areas, working with other State agencies and local business in supporting investment decisions.”

For further information contact:

Press Office, DJEI, Tel: 01 631 2200, email: press.office@djei.ie


Key points:

  • 31 offices focused on local enterprise development.
  • The LEO combines the expertise of Enterprise Ireland with the broad reach of Local Authorities.
  • 170 dedicated staff across the LEOs system, supplemented by a new Graduate Recruitment Programme to take place shortly and supported by a further 40 Local Authority staff.
  • www.localenterprise.ie is the new client-focused website providing information about all national and local supports and events for local business.
  • Single point of access to ALL local and national enterprise supports and services.     
  • All small businesses supported or advised, both exporting and domestically trading – under the previous system some business fell through the cracks between different agencies.
  • As businesses grow and develop, seamless progression through the ranks of supports from Enterprise Ireland.
  • Customer Charter and staff training by Enterprise Ireland.
  • Increased budget allocation of €3.5m (20%) in 2014.
  • New Youth Entrepreneurship Competition.
  • Access to Microfinance and Loan Guarantee schemes.
  • Network supported and managed by National Centre of Excellence in Enterprise Ireland.
  • Service delivery protocols in place between LEOs and key Government bodies to ensure business-people can access all relevant services from LEOs – Revenue, Dept of Social Protection, Education and Training Boards, Skillnets, Microfinance Ireland, Credit Review Office.
  • LEOs will each develop a local enterprise plan putting micro and small business at the heart of job-creation locally.
  • Enterprise Ireland has established a new Centre of Excellence for small business supports, to develop international best practice in this area and roll it out in LEOs across the country.
  • Each LEO, embedded in a local authority, will develop 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. This represents a fundamental reform of local government so that services are delivered and decisions made closer to the people.
  • New training programmes for all staff in customer support, and a new customer service charter which will include targets for levels of service delivery.


What supports and services do LEOs provide?

  • We provide direct financial supports to micro businesses. Micro Enterprises are businesses with 10 or less employees.
  • We advise on a range of alternative funding options available.
  • We offer business information, advisory services and enterprise support.
  • We deliver high-quality training to meet the needs of your business including; Start Your Own Business, Managing Your Business e.g. Marketing, Sales, Financial Management, Strategy and Business Planning.
  • We mentor you and your business with experienced experts.
  • We guide you to the services most relevant to support the growth and development of your business.
  • We give you advice on local authority regulations, planning, accessibility, environment, procurement, and other issues affecting your business.
  • We connect you with appropriate State resources for your business, including relevant agencies, such as:
    - Department of Social Protection: Enterprise Supports
    - Microfinance Ireland: Business Loans
    - Revenue: Seed Capital Schemes
    - Education and Training Boards: Business Courses
    - Skillnets’ Training: Networks and Courses
    - Credit Review Office: when your bank has refused credit
  • We create progression pathways for high-potential companies to Enterprise Ireland.
  • We advise on local property solutions for start-ups and business expansions.
  • We organise key enterprise events.
  • We facilitate effective business networking.
  • We promote entrepreneurship education in the local community.
  • Our website www.localenterprise.ie gives you access to online information about our supports and services.


Who Can We Help?

  • Anyone with a business idea or who already has an established business that is looking for information, advice, referral to other supports, guidance on ‘how to start your own business’ – or maybe needs training, mentoring or financial assistance.
  • With a customer charter, dedicated training new web materials and service protocols with other agencies, we will be the first stop shop for anyone with a business idea.
  • The Local Enterprise Office is for anybody interested in starting up a new business, or already in business, including; first time or young entrepreneurs, early stage promoters, start-ups and micro and small businesses looking to expand.
  • The Local Enterprise Office will encourage people to think positively about starting and growing a business locally, in particular motivating young people locally to start their own business.


What’s on Offer?

  • Our Mission is to promote entrepreneurship, foster business start-ups and develop existing micro and small businesses to drive job creation and to provide accessible high quality supports for your business ideas.
  • Small businesses face a host of barriers to success, including: not knowing where to find information and resources; weak management, access to finance or lack of marketing and business planning skills. Helping to overcome these challenges are among the many ways that Local Enterprise Offices will serve the practical needs of people in business.
  • We will provide strategic, administrative, technical and financial support and services to start, grow and develop micro and small business in each local area.
  • With 31 dedicated teams across the Local Authority network in Ireland, Local Enterprise Offices offer a wide range of experience, skills and services to turn your business idea into a business.
  • Through its information and advice service, including its new website, the Local Enterprise Office will connect people to all the appropriate information available in the State that they need to start grow and succeed in business.
  • We will continue to provide grants to those with the potential to export.
  • The Local Enterprise Offices have access to the full range of expertise in Enterprise Ireland with the establishment of a new Centre of Excellence to guarantee ‘best practice’ service and staff training nationally.
  • We can provide access to the specialist expertise in Enterprise Ireland for businesses in a particular sector, or with innovation and export potential.
  • We will provide access to the full range of financial supports available to business in the State including direct referral to the Microfinance Ireland loan scheme for businesses that have been turned down by the banks.
  • As well as advice and direct supports, the Local Enterprise Office will promote a pro-enterprise culture locally, by organising enterprise events, supporting local business networks and working with local Chambers and other organisations, schools etc.
  • We will be to the forefront in promoting entrepreneurship through the schools as well as through the National Enterprise Awards.
  • We will help existing businesses tap in to their potential to expand their business through mentoring, training, advice, information and where eligible, direct financial aid.