Limerick Business Leader: Nurturing talent and bright ideas at local enterprise office

Norma Purtill is managing the Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur competition for Limerick Local Enterprise Office among other duties

Nick Rabbitts


Nick Rabbitts

‘You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar’: Assistant enterprise officer Norma Purtill

‘You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar’: Assistant enterprise officer Norma Purtill

Tell us a little about Local Enterprise Office Limerick:

The Local Enterprise Office (also known as Leo Limerick), along with 30 other Local Enterprise Offices (or Leos) around the country were established in 2014 to provide a ‘one-stop shop’ system of enterprise supports to start-ups and small businesses across the country.  Located in Patrick Street, it provides funding for projects primarily in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sector through a number of grants such as priming grants, business expansion grants as well as website development grants and grants to develop export potential.   The LEOs also provide training and mentoring support to entrepreneurs and micro-businesses to assist businesses in enhancing their development.

What does your own role entail?

I am an assistant business advisor. My role involves developing and managing the delivery of the Leo training and mentoring programme in response to the needs of small businesses.  Our comprehensive training and development programme enables small business owners to develop their skills and competencies which is a vital aspect of the development of their business.  I am also involved in promoting the Local Enterprise Office through collaborating with our partners such as Network Ireland Limerick and through our social media.  I am also involved in a number of specific programmes such as student enterprise, local enterprise awards and Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE).

Tell us about the IBYE programme:

This is a programme run by the Local Enterprise Offices.  The competition is open to people between the ages of 18 and 35 with an innovative business idea, new start-up or established business. Now in its 5th year, IBYE has a national investment fund of up to €2m with a €50,000 investment fund for Limerick. IBYE is a nationwide competition, run across three categories: best business idea, best start-up business and best established business.  All IBYE applicants in Limerick will be invited to attend a free ‘Enterprise Day’ to be briefed on all services that the Local Enterprise Office has to offer and the competition details itself.  Limerick LEO will ultimately award up to six investments to three category winners and three runners-up at county level. The local winners in the best start-up and best established business categories at county level will receive investments of up to €15,000 each and the two runners-up will each receive up to €5,000. The best business idea winner at county level will receive an investment of up to €7,000 and the runner-up will receive up to €3,000 of investment. These winners in Limerick will progress to regional finals during the summer which are taking place here in Limerick with the national IBYE finals taking place on September 15, 2019.

Where were you born and raised?

I was born and raised in Tralee. I am now living in Croom.

What is your educational background?

I attended college at the Institute of Technology of Tralee where I graduated with a BA in business studies and information systems management. 

How did you get to where you are today?

Prior to working with the Local Enterprise Office, I had a long career with Kerry County Council and worked in a number of directorates including the Town Council which later became a municipal district as well as the community and enterprise department. My goal was always to relocate to Limerick so I was delighted to secure a position with Limerick City and County Council where I was assigned to the Local Enterprise Office in April 2017. 

What are your goals for the next 12 months?

My goal for the next 12 months is to continue to promote the excellent work of the Local Enterprise Office through collaborations with partners around the city and county in the development of our supports to micro-enterprise.  I also want to increase the numbers of people coming to the LEO as the first stop shop for business supports to the microenterprise sector. I would encourage anybody reading to check out the LEO at to have a look at the many supports and initiatives we have available to those who are starting a business or those who are in business and thinking of expanding. Alternatively, you can call us at 061-407499.

Who do you admire in business?

Through my work in the LEO, I am very lucky to have met a number of prominent business people but one person who stands out to me is Vicki O’Toole, the managing director of JJ O’Toole Ltd.  She overcame adversity and now leads a dynamic and award-winning business that employs 25 staff here in Limerick.

In business and life, are you guided by any particular motto?

I love the motto ‘you catch more flies with honey than vinegar’. In other words, I believe that keeping the bright side out, keeping positive and being friendly always comes back to you tenfold both in life and business.

Away from work, what are your pastimes and hobbies?

I love to get out for a walk in the fresh air and greatly believe in the benefits of exercise.  As a proud Kerry woman, I also love to follow the Kerry GAA team!