MORE than three-quarters of a million euro has been given to new start-up companies in Limerick in just seven months.
Figures just released have shown the Local Enterprise Office (LEO), which replaced the Limerick City Enterprise Board and the Limerick County Enterprise Board in May last, has approved grant aid of €764,374.
A total of 37 business proposals were successful, with the grants going to help with innovation costs, own labour research, consultancy, and other related costs.
In order to qualify for a grant from LEO, a business must be classed as a small to medium sized enterprise, and employ fewer than ten staff.
The figures were revealed at the meeting of Limerick City and County Council, which took place in Dooradoyle this Monday night.
Fine Gael councillor Daniel Butler, who sits on the economic committee, welcomed the figures.
He said: “I am delighted to see strong figures for our LEO for 2014 in its first year. I think a more strategic and local focus on enterprise support will in the long term reap significant rewards. There is always room for improvement and I think we have a responsibility locally to foster a healthy business environment with more of a focus on the small to medium sized business.”
Of the €764,374, a total of €511,026 was made to 43 approved businesses, and refundable aid of €157,000 was also paid out.
“I hope we see a return on this investment moving forward into 2015. We are still in a volatile recovery process nationally and internationally so these investments locally are a key strategy for local economic growth,” Cllr Butler added.
The information about LEO, based the former AIB building at Patrick Street, was made available in council chief executive Conn Murray’s monthly report to councillors.
It shows 68 training and development events were organised, comprising of courses, seminars, networking events.
Topics covered included how to start your own business, marketing, finance, social media, tendering and retail development.
Cllr Butler added: “These support a broad spectrum of business’ locally promoting further growth and expansion.”
On top of this, local businessman Paddy Finn, of Electricity Exchange, represented the Limerick Enterprise Office in the final of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur.
He called on local business people to attend the events, if they have the time.
“I know when you have hectic schedule these events tend to be at the bottom of the to do list but all business needs to look at continued development and how to maintain competitiveness. These events will prove a valuable tool for any business,” concluded the City West member.