Enterprise; Trade and Employment | Small business employment and encouragement
To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise; Trade and Employment the extent to which he and his Department continue to encourage employment in various small enterprises in towns and villages throughout the country thereby encouraging trade and enterprise; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Local Enterprise Offices act as a ‘First Stop Shop’ for providing advice and guidance, financial assistance, and offer a ‘signposting’ service for all government supports available to business owners throughout the country.
The Local Enterprise Offices can offer direct grant aid to businesses operating in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors which, over time, have the potential to develop into strong export entities. Eligible expenditure for these grants can include the salary costs for hiring additional staff where a need has been identified as part of the grant application.
The Local Enterprise Offices also provide a wide range of high-quality business and management development programmes that are tailored to meet specific business requirements and help these small businesses to reach their potential.
Regional enterprise development and sustainable local job creation is a key policy priority of this Government. This year my Department launched nine new Regional Enterprise Plans to run to 2024. These are an integral part of Ireland’s enterprise policy and are aimed at driving economic growth and sustaining better standards of living throughout Ireland. These are bottom-up plans, developed by regional stakeholders including the Local Authorities, the enterprise agencies, Local Enterprise Offices, regional skills forum and education and training institutes in each region.
The new Regional Enterprise Plans aim to identify growth opportunities, recognise vulnerabilities, and in response, strengthen the regional enterprise ecosystem to enable job creation and are underpinned by understanding the unique local strengths and assets in each region. Work on the implementation of the actions within each Regional Enterprise Plan has commenced and each Plan is overseen and monitored by a Regional Steering Committee made up of regional stakeholders and chaired by a senior level private sector businessperson.
The Plans are also in addition to the ongoing work of the various bodies such as the IDA, Enterprise Ireland and others, and focus on collaborative initiatives aimed at job creation in the regions. The Government has provided funding to assist regions to support enterprise activity, promote regional growth and create jobs.
The Department, through Enterprise Ireland, has made available to date over €126 million in regional enterprise development funding to assist locally led regional enterprise development projects and almost €100 million in funding has been approved for 68 enterprise strengthening projects under the Regional Enterprise Development Fund.
Furthermore, under the Regional Enterprise Transition Scheme 24 existing REDF and BEDF projects secured additional funding of €9.3 million. There is also a ring-fenced Border Enterprise Development Fund which has approved funding of €17.4 million for 11 enterprise projects with projects approved in each border county. These funds are supporting significant collaborative and innovative regional projects that when complete will provide a timely impetus to job creation in towns and villages nationwide and is backed up by the Government’s Economic Recovery Plan and the updated National Development Plan, which seek to achieve regionally balanced growth.
Further to this, the Department of Rural and Community Development administer a number of schemes and projects that aim to further develop our rural towns and communities and generate enterprise and employment opportunities; these include the Town and Village Renewal Scheme, which focusses on the regeneration of derelict and vacant sites to repurpose them as multi-purpose spaces, and the CLÁR programme (Ceantair Laga Árd-Riachtanais) which provides funding for small-scale infrastructural projects in rural areas. These schemes will encourage more people to return confidently to town and village centres to work, shop and socialise.
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