Dear Editor,Laois will benefit from a new Local Enterprise Office (LEO), which is expected to be up and running from April. The new LEOs across the country, which will be embedded in the Local Authorities, will act as a one stop shop for the business supports currently delivered by County Enterprise Boards and by Local Authorities. The new system of LEOs will completely streamline the supports on offer to local businesses in Laois. They will develop a plan for boosting local enterprise, setting targets for job creation and new business start-ups. This represents a radical overhaul of how supports are delivered, and will ensure that the system is local, targeted and effective.
The Government is focused on supporting small enterprises, which employ more than 650,000 people across the country. The need for direct engagement with businesses was one of the main points raised at the recent Jobs Forum in Portlaoise attended by Minister Bruton. Through the new LEOs, national enterprise policy will feed down to local level, allowing Laois County Council to strengthen its direct engagement with local businesses.
The LEO office will act as a hub for enterprise support. It will provide a huge range of supports, including mentoring and training on how to start your own business and advice on how to draw up a business plan. It will also be able to refer clients directly onto Enterprise Ireland, Microfinance Ireland and Loan Guarantee Schemes.
As part of the LEO set up, a new Entrepreneurship Fund is also being established, which will directly target start-ups by under 25s. A Graduate Recruitment Programme is also being implemented, which will allow business graduates to be employed by LEOs. We are determined to build on the progress far and I am sure that the establishment of the new LEO in Laois will help drive business innovation and job creation locally.
Charlie Flanagan TD
Fine Gael Parliamentary Party Chairman