THE new Local Enterprise Office Limerick is set to approve more in support grants for small businesses this year than the city and county enterprise boards did in 2013.
That’s according to head of local enterprise Eamon Ryan, who was speaking at the launch of the local enterprise office (LEO) at City Hall on Monday.
The creation of the office - which will open on Patrick Street next month - does more than simply amalgamate Limerick City and County Enterprise Boards. LEOs are an overhaul by government of the former enterprise boards, integrating their activities more with those of Enterprise Ireland, the Credit Review Office and other agencies. The aim is to create a one-stop-shop for small indigenous firms seeking state supports - including mentoring and grant aid.
Mr Ryan said there was already an improving picture for small business in Limerick.
“There is a new vibrancy out there and I think that this is highlighted by the fact that in the first four months of this year, the county and city enterprise boards approved over €450,000 to assist in the creation of 48 full-time and 20 part-time jobs,” he said.
The LEO would be applying to government for an additional allocation that would see the new office approve up to €1 million in grants by the end of the year, topping the €850,000 achieved last year by the two enterprise boards.
And launching the LEO this Monday, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said the government would be receptive to any request for additional funds.
“Richard Bruton has said that whatever financial needs are there for the LEOs, that they will be provided for because we are not going to starve job creation for the sake of small amounts of money,” he said.
“The government’s priority is to create extra jobs. It is running at 1,000 jobs net every week now but the public tend to always concentrate on foreign direct investment and tend to think about job creation as being all about putting an IDA factory into every town and village,” he said.
“But of course, there is a huge small and medium-sized enterprise sector here in Ireland.
“The LEOs are designed to help our own entrepreneurs who establish small business and to ensure that in the early stages that they are not trammelled in red tape and that they aware of all the assistance available across government departments and government agencies.”
Former CEO of Limerick County Enterprise Board Ned Toomey has retired but none of the six staff who had worked at the city and county enterprise are losing their jobs as a result of the effective amalgamation.