Minister for Small Business announces €4m extra funding for Local Enterprise Offices

Additional funding will drive job creation around the country

Minister Breen meets with Local Authority Chief Executives and LEOs and announces increase in funding for microenterprise and new start-ups in 2017

Minister for Small Business and Employment, Pat Breen TD, today announced an additional €4m in funding for the Local Enterprise Offices to stimulate new start-ups and jobs across the country and to help micro businesses to cope with challenges in the year ahead.

Minister Breen said “The Local Enterprise Offices have shown the potential of small businesses to create jobs in every locality and the Government wants to boost that effort to spread recovery to all parts of the country. Companies are facing global economic challenges and the extra funding will be mainly used to work with clients to cope with those challenges, to investigate new markets and new opportunities and to boost the pipeline of new start-ups around Ireland.”

“The microenterprises supported by the LEOs create between 3,000 and 4,000 jobs each year and thousands of client companies avail of training, mentoring, advice and guidance provided by the LEOs annually” he said.

Minister Breen added “The promotion of a ‘start-your-own-business’ culture is a key element of the Government’s job creation policy to reduce unemployment across the regions. The LEOs are leading that drive in every county and I am confident that the additional resources being made available to the LEOs will deliver results. My message here today is that with the challenges faced at the present time, never was it more important for local partners including the LEOs, the Local Authorities, Enterprise Ireland and others such as the Higher Education Institutes to work collaboratively to drive local economic development and job creation.”

The Minister was speaking at the Annual LEO Forum attended by representatives of the LEOs, Local Authorities and Enterprise Ireland. Amongst the themes discussed were strategic priorities for the LEOs in the year ahead, building on a strong performance to date; meeting the challenges and opportunities for microenterprises presented by Brexit; and the need for collaborative approaches to drive local enterprise development.

Niall O’Donnellan, Head – Strategy, People & Regions speaking on behalf of Enterprise Ireland commented: “The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) play a key role in the enterprise development ecosystem. In partnership with the Local Authorities and Enterprise Ireland they work to ensure that there is a strong pipeline of new start-ups and existing businesses that have the potential to grow rapidly and create new employment. The additional capital allocation for LEOs this year is very welcome.”

Kieran Comerford, Head of Enterprise LEO Carlow speaking on behalf of the Local Enterprise Offices, said: “The Local Enterprise Offices welcome the additional allocation in capital funding which will have a real impact on the ground for start-ups and small businesses in every local authority area. This significant increase in capital funding for 2017, together with the Action Plan for Jobs’ framework and the roll-out of local enterprise plans all mean additional resources for the local business sector. LEOs in local authorities will use these additional resources effectively to help address competitive issues for the sector by developing specific enterprise supports, such as programmes, funds and projects. Enterprise supports create opportunities, which in turn, create jobs in more local companies.”

Joe MacGrath, Chair of the County and City Management Association, in welcoming the additional funding for the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) added: “The local government sector is playing a leading role in job creation and economic development at local and regional levels.  Local authorities are central in coordinating the delivery of the Regional Action Plans for Jobs and leading the implementation of the Local Economic and Community Plans. Local Enterprise Offices play an important role supporting businesses and job creation locally.  In 2015, they supported the creation of 3,533 full time jobs, delivered training for 27,187 participants and mentored 8,175 businesses. They are a key part of the range of activities local authorities engage in to improve the enterprise environment of areas throughout Ireland.”


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Notes to editors:

  • The additional capital funding for the LEOs in 2017 is a €4 million increase in the full annual capital allocation for 2017, included in Budget 2017. The total capital allocation for the LEOs in 2017 will be €22.5 million, an increase of almost 22 percent over the 2016 initial allocation of 18.5 million.
  • The 31 LEOs nationwide are the ‘first-stop-shop’ for providing advice, financial support, training, mentoring and other supports to those wishing to start or grow their business in each Local Authority area.
  • The LEOs are operated on a partnership basis by Enterprise Ireland and the Local Authorities. They were established in 2014 as part of a range of reforms carried out by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (DJEI) in recent years, with policy responsibility for the LEOs resting with DJEI.
  • The LEOs provide grant funding for micro-enterprise investment projects in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors, which over time have the potential to develop into strong export entities. There are three main categories of grant under which direct financial assistance is provided – Priming, Feasibility and Business Expansion. The LEOs also provide training and mentoring support to entrepreneurs and businesses to assist business development and performance.
  • The LEOs also deliver national level initiatives such as Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE). Now in its third year, IBYE, which has a €2 million investment fund, is run by all 31 LEOs and is supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland. This year’s competition attracted a record 1,842 participants – a 32% increase on last year.
  • The LEOs through appropriate referral also ensure that people thinking of starting or expanding a business in every part of the country are able to access the full range of State supports provided by different Government bodies – for example Revenue, the Department of Social Protection, the Credit Review Office, Education and Training Boards etc, – in one easily accessible location within the Local Authority.
  • In 2015, the LEOs provided a range of development supports aimed at building company capacity and performance among the micro-enterprise sector – they:
  • paid out direct financial assistance to 984 business projects, totalling €10m.
  • of these, 400 were priming grants for start-up companies.
  • In addition to direct financial assistance, the LEOs supported an even wider cohort of entrepreneurs and small businesses in 2015 through:
  • 1,896 training programmes involving 27,185 participants;
  • provision of one-to-one mentoring support to 8,175 participants;
  • 399 referrals to Micro Finance Ireland of which 200 were approved; and
  • promoting the Trading Online Voucher Scheme with almost 1,700 businesses participating (
  • Details on all the supports available for small businesses and microenterprises through the 31 LEOs are available at