Wicklow Fine Gael Cllr and Local Election Candidate Irene Winters welcomed the launch of the Wicklow Local Enterprise Office (LEO) by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD and the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD. The launch event took place in Wicklow County Campus in Rathnew House.
“The Wicklow Local Enterprise Office is part a nationwide system of 31 LEOs delivering an improved system of local enterprise supports to start-ups and small businesses across the country.
“With over 60,000 net new jobs created last year, we are on the road to economic recovery. The services provided by the LEOs will ensure that the jobs boost is felt right across all regions of the country, including Wicklow. Across Co. Wicklow the Live Register has fallen by 9% since Fine Gael entered Government.
“Fine Gael will continue to support jobs and investment. That is why Fine Gael Councillors will freeze commercial rates and reduce them where possible, in order to encourage job creation in small businesses across the country.
“The LEOs will build on the significant achievements of the County and City Enterprise Boards and will provide a ‘first-stop-shop’ for all Government supports for small business in easily accessible locations across the country.
“The WicklowLEO in Rathnew is a fantastic resource for sole traders, micro businesses and small and medium sized companies seeking information and support on starting or growing a business. Previously some businesses were considered too large to access supports from City and County Enterprise Boards, but as they were not exporting they did not qualify for Enterprise Ireland supports either. All categories of business will now benefit from services provided by the LEOs.
“I know that in Wicklow,all available grants, mentoring and training facilities are needed to aid growth and development, following what has been an extremely difficult time for local businesses. The new network of local enterprise offices will also provide an additional €3.5 million in funding with a particular focus on supporting young entrepreneurs under 30 years of age.
“Through the LEOs, companies can access the full range of financial supports available to business in the State including access to seed capital schemes and direct referral to the Microfinance Ireland loan scheme for businesses that have been turned down by the banks.
“Staff training is also a key service on offer, with the establishment of a new Centre of Excellence to guarantee ‘best practice’ service and staff training nationally.
“The LEOs will breathe new life into many sectors of our regional economies. Wicklow business owners will now be able to walk into the Wicklow LEO and get the supports they require. This marks a real reform of local government and devolution of power from central Government.
“The Government’s Action Plan for Jobs is focused on bringing more opportunities to regional areas and the LEOs are an important step in facilitating this development and in providing a more integrated support service for the entrepreneurial, self-starting and motivated people who want to create jobs and contribute to the Wicklow economy.”