Forty new and developing enterprises in County Longford received approved financial assistance totalling €352,000 from Longford County Enterprise Board in 2013, writes Patrick Conboy.
Encompassing a wide range of industries from engineering to software development and crafts, the value of grants issued ranged from €987 to €21,000.
“While the average amount of support might be considered modest, the support usually provided a valuable injection at a critical phase in the development of each business,” said Michael Nevin of Longford County Enterprise Board.
“On the soft supports side, Longford County Enterprise Board expended over €170,000 in 2013 providing subsidised mentoring and training supports to businesses across the spectrum. Its most popular course is the ‘Start Your Own Business’ course, helping people turn business ideas into viable small businesses. It also provided a full range of business courses in finance, marketing, digital marketing, etc., whilst it helped over 70 businesses in 2013 with one-to-one mentoring support to help with issues relevant to their own business.”
The local Enterprise Board has assisted over 1,000 businesses since it was established in 1993, and it has injected up to €8 million into the local economy during that time.
This April will see the dissolution of the County Enterprise Board network, with its functions being transferred to new Local Enterprise Offices under the control of local authorities.
“An obvious advantage of providing this service from within the local authority is ready access to areas that impact on businesses, such as planning, rates, infrastructure, etc.,” Mr Nevin revealed.
“Local authorities will have a renewed focus on job creation and enterprise support going forward and it makes sense to have all arms of local government connected in terms of providing a pro-business service.”
Mr Nevin admitted that, “The demise of the Enterprise Board structure will be “tinged with a degree of sadness for the huge voluntary effort put in over the last 20 years by evaluation and board members. As one of the few entities that didn’t pay any allowance to board members, the direction and work of the board was very much shaped by individuals who were deeply interested in seeing Longford progress economically.”
Although details have not yet been confirmed, Mr Nevin added that it is likely the budget for the new Local Enterprise Office will be similar to that currently provided through the County Enterprise Board. It is hoped there will be no disruption of services, and he hopes the Local Enterprise Office’s clients will “experience a more enhanced and integrated support from this April.”