Sixteen finalists in the Laois Best Young Entrepreneur were feted last week, when the overall winners were picked at the Heritage Hotel in Killenard.
The 16 were distilled from an initial entry of 64 in the competition, an impressive figure by and standard.
Indeed Laois has always had a good entry to this competition, something which was noted last week.
That level of interest in itself is a very good indicator at the level of activity that is taking place in the county, something which can be all too easily be overlooked.
The finalists last week were drawn from categories of ideas to new start ups, to the more established businesses which are obviously more familiar to the public.
Their common denominator is that they are all helmed by young Laois people, who have a vision and have taken definitive steps in the realisation of it.
The lack of industry in the county is often decried, and justifiably so. And certainly the lack of investment and the failure to attract industry here is an old bugbear, which has become accentuated with the county’s enhanced strategic location, due to the motorway network.
Often overlooked, however, is what is taking place on the ground. And it is heartening.
Last Wednesday saw a collection of people with very clear ideas about what they wanted to do.
Their enthusiasm and determination was palpable. Yet they do not look through the world with rose tinted spectacles. The one impression that was formed from conversations was the hard work and graft that is involved in setting up a business, and getting it going and maintaining it.
And it is a constant struggle, which involves total dedication and long hours. Nothing can be taken for granted. And the need for funding is always an overriding factor.
There is, of course, help out there, in the shape of awards such as these and bodies such as the Local Enterprise Office and Laois Partnership.
However, it can be an uphill battle. Anyone involved in start ups will tell you.
The diversity of what was on offer last Wednesday was eyeopening.
We already have examples of what can be achieved in terms of local enterprises.
G's Jams immediately springs to mind.
As last Wednesday clearly showed, we have a lot to offer.