News & Events

Burke sets out future direction for Local Enterprise Offices

Focus on decarbonisation, digitalisation, increasing exports, advice and innovations

Peter Burke TD, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, today published the first ever Local Enterprise Offices Policy Statement 2024-2030 ahead of the annual National Enterprise Awards at the Mansion House later this evening.

Launching the Policy Statement Minister Burke said:

“This Policy Statement highlights the central role the LEOs play for small businesses across every community in Ireland. Over the last 10 years the LEOs have been the cornerstone of support for small businesses, guiding them at every stage, encouraging their growth and success and assisting them to meet the challenges of recent years. This Policy Statement ensures the LEOs will continue to build on this success, broadening their reach even further and going above and beyond for businesses and communities.

“Today we provide clarity and certainty on the way in which our LEOs will continue to be the first stop shop for businesses. Their doors are always open and over 370,000 businesses are eligible for some type of support from the LEOs, such as assistance in starting and growing a business, as well as expert guidance on how to save time, money and energy, mentoring, training and general business advice.

“At a time of continued pressure on small enterprises, the LEO Policy Statement follows on from the range of measures approved by the Government last week with the aim of reducing costs for small and medium sized businesses.

“A number of these measures will now be actioned by the LEOs – including increasing the Energy Efficiency Grant, opening up grants to help more businesses to digitalise, and launching Ireland’s Best Emerging Entrepreneur Programme.

“I welcome the publication of this Policy Statement and I look forward to the delivery of the programme actions, from now right up to 2030.”

Emer Higgins TD, Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail said:

“Small Irish businesses have shown time and again their resilience and ability to face challenges head-on. This Government is committed to creating a thriving local business environment, which in turn supports communities all over Ireland through job creation and economic growth. I welcome the emphasis placed on the availability of supports to locally trading businesses, and I would strongly encourage all small businesses out there to engage with their LEO and be confident there is something for them in the range of LEO services that will help them on their journey to grow.”

Dara Calleary TD, Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation said:

“I am delighted to see the launch of the LEO Policy Statement today. Digitalisation of enterprise is a key priority for this Government and we are committed to helping businesses make these changes. By driving the digitalisation of all businesses in Ireland, we further strengthen our reputation and position as a leading global digital hub. There are so many opportunities presented to SMEs by transitioning to digital ways of doing business. The changes that are signalled in the LEO Policy Statement will open up funding and consultancy for digital projects to more small businesses. Digitalisation is for everyone – both large and small businesses, and the LEO Policy Statement strongly commits to placing digital transformation at the heart of their services.”

The LEO Policy Statement is anchored on four core pillars:

  • Enabling Entrepreneurship: with LEOs committed to creating an enterprise environment where entrepreneurship can flourish, by offering support for entrepreneurs to succeed.
  • Offering Business Advice: LEOs continuing to be the first stop shop for businesses locally, using their experience, local knowledge and expertise to engage directly with any business on the ground, supported and enhanced by the forthcoming new National Enterprise Hub (NEH).
  • Providing Enterprise Supports: Focusing on business advice, training and mentoring, digital, green and lean supports for all businesses regardless of size, and direct financial grant aid for businesses in manufacturing and/or internationally traded services.
  • Supporting Local Economic Development: contributing to business development and employment creation in every community, village, town and city in the country. Providing this essential building block in economic development, thereby creating attractive, vibrant and resilient communities.

The Policy Statement addresses the key White Paper on Enterprise priorities that are most relevant to LEOs namely: decarbonisation, digitalisation, increasing exports, helping locally traded businesses, and innovation.

It has 12 actions for implementation between now and 2030 and was developed in collaboration with other Government departments, Enterprise Ireland, the Local Authorities, the LEO Network and in consultation with the SME and Entrepreneurship Taskforce.

Among the policy developments being introduced are:

  1. Climate focused assessment criteria for capital grants for manufacturing and internationally traded services businesses.
  2. Ex-post measurement of the impact of climate related supports.
  3. Changes to the digitalisation offering to ensure consistency and greater eligibility.
  4. Greater emphasis on the role of the forthcoming National Enterprise Hub and its signposting service.
  5. Introduction of a new export accelerator through the LEOs and Enterprise Ireland.
  6. Commitment to deliver the LEO Customer Relationship Management System digitalisation project. 

CEO of Enterprise Ireland, Leo Clancy welcomed the Statement, commenting:

“Our relationship with the Local Authorities over the last 10 years has proven to be a successful demonstration of partnership which has yielded significant economic benefit to small businesses and Ireland. LEOs will be central to leading the charge in supporting small businesses to embrace digital transformation and become more sustainable. We will also make it easier for businesses of all sectors and sizes to understand what supports are available to them from across Government through the new National Enterprise Hub (NEH).

“We in Enterprise Ireland are looking forward to continuing to support our colleagues in LEOs as they expand their reach and service to all small businesses.”

Chair of the CCMA Business, Enterprise, Tourism, Innovation & Urban/Town Economic Renewal (BETIUER) Committee, and Chief Executive of Kildare County Council, Sonya Kavanagh remarked:

“The Government decision to establish and embed LEOs within Local Authorities acknowledged the support that Councils around the country provide to businesses. This policy initiative has been significant and successful.

“This Policy Statement acknowledges the great work being done by LEOs imbedded within Local Authorities in every county in Ireland. It also reinforces the role of LEOs in providing services to a wider range of businesses within our local communities. LEOs’ client centred approach will help and support our business communities into the future.”

John Magee, Chair of the LEO Network, and Head of Enterprise LEO Mayo emphasised the success of the LEOs over the last ten years, while being firmly focused on the future:

“LEOs are a story of success, with a track record of delivering financial support, capacity building and guidance to many thousands of businesses. Since inception in 2014, LEOs have approved funding of €188m; have provided Start Your Own Business training to over 42,000 people; have transferred almost 1,100 businesses to EI to continue their growth; and have supported our client base to create a net jobs increase of over 28,000 – spread across every County in Ireland. We look forward to playing a central role in meeting the key objectives outlined in the White Paper on Enterprise 2022-2030 with a specific focus on the transition of local businesses to a digital, low carbon economy and to continuing our role in supporting our local enterprises to start, grow and prosper.”