*Padraic McElwee. Photograph: Eamon Ward
New figures have revealed that the Clare Local Enterprise Office is supporting 236 small businesses and 1,283 jobs.
Annual results of the LEOs across the country were published recently by the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar TD (FG) which showed that over 7,500 companies employing over 35,000 people are now supported by the LEOs.
“Our Local Enterprise Offices play a really important role in fostering enterprise across the country. In the face of unprecedented challenges, our LEOs managed to pivot and adapt quickly, to help their network of local businesses endure the crisis of the pandemic. When small businesses needed help more than ever, their virtual door was always open and they were able to train, fund and mentor more businesses last year than ever before,” the Tánaiste stated.
In Clare, 401 businesses were approved for trading online vouchers and 32 businesses were supported with funding to the tune of €659,000. 179 new jobs were created as a result of support from Clare LEO. A 235 percent increase in training participants were observed last year along with a 75 percent increase in mentoring support.
Supported by the Government, Local Enterprise Office supported companies created 5,585 new jobs in 2020. Despite the new jobs created, there was a net jobs loss of 1,494 across the LEO portfolio of client companies in what was a challenging year for small businesses.
The Local Enterprise Offices were to the fore in supporting small businesses across the country in 2020, helping thousands to pivot online or adapt their products and services through new Government supports introduced as part of the July Stimulus Package. The LEOs approved 13,091 Trading Online Vouchers to assist businesses get online to trade or improve their existing online offering. This was up over 950% from 1,218 in 2019 and proved to be a vital resource for many businesses helping to reach their customers. The Local Enterprise Offices are now supporting 35,236 jobs across 7,529 companies. 2020 also saw the successful transition of 133 companies from the Local Enterprise Offices to Enterprise Ireland and they continue to scale and look to international markets.
Last year, over €22million was approved by Local Enterprise Offices to clients for projects across the year to help improve their businesses in a range of areas. This figure was up from €20million in 2019 and is the largest amount of approved funding by the Local Enterprise Offices to small businesses to date.
Chair of the network of LEOs and also the Head of Clare LEO, Padraic McElwee detailed how they were “to the fore in trying to help these companies pivot or adapt their businesses to sustain through the issues caused by Covid and Brexit. The figures show the level of support that was given, both financially and through training, mentoring and significantly, the work done in getting small companies online to ensure they could continue to reach their customers.
“While the challenging environment still exists for many, we have also seen the best of Irish business. Whether that is in their innovations to help in the fight against Covid or companies pivoting their businesses quickly to adapt and survive or seeing that strong sense of local pride with companies helping each other in their own communities and the Local Enterprise Offices have tried to help where we can along the way,” he added.