Local Enterprise Offices Ireland

First Stop Shop for business help in Ireland

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Getting confused navigating the government supports for Irish Businesses? This is the first in a series of podcasts outlining the supports available for Irish businesses. The first interview is a podcast with the Local Enterprise Office (LEO), which is the first stop shop for all supports.

John Magee is a senior figure in the Mayo Local Enterprise Office (LEO) and based in the west of Ireland. We sat down with John to learn about the range of ways his organization helps businesses in Ireland.

We kicked off by asking about the rebranding of the County Enterprise Boards throughout Ireland to become Local Enterprise Offices. John tells us that Local Enterprise Offices are now under the democratic control of local authorities but their services have remained largely unchanged.

John tells us that there is no such thing as a typical client. Visitors to the Local Enterprise Office range from those with vague ideas to those getting ready for an exit.

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Each Local Authority – 31 in total – has a dedicated team ready to help anyone seeking information and support on starting or growing a business in Ireland. Their mandate covers businesses with fewer than 10 employees and a turnover less than €2 million.

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LEO provides assistance with mentoring, training, website development and trade show attendance to all businesses but it should be noted that grant aid is subject to the following criteria:

· The enterprise must be in manufacturing or Internationally Traded Services Sectors;
· The enterprise must be in the commercial sphere;
· The enterprise must demonstrate a market for the product/service;
· The enterprise must have a capacity for growth and new job creation.
· The enterprise must not employ more than 10 people.

In past years, people may have arrived at their local LEO needing to start something as there were no other options during the recession. Today, there is less risk or pressure relative to a couple of years ago but the Local Enterprise Offices are busier than ever.

John says that the person, rather than his or her idea, is often the differentiator when starting a business. Consequently much of LEOs work is centred on supporting their entrepreneurial business traits.

John says that the person, rather than his or her idea, is often the differentiator when starting a business.

Although he feels it’s one of the greatest clichés, John says that people learn more from their failures than their successes. LEO staff concentrate on building up a relationship and an ongoing conversation. There are no timescale for how quickly things should move forward but LEO have a broad range of support options available along the way.

Financial support certainly isn’t everything. Sometimes the right connection or course can be just as helpful. LEO offers courses such as Start Your Own Business. These can make a big difference when starting out as they help people understand if entrepreneurship is right for them.

Staff at Local Enterprise Offices can refer businesses to their panel of about 40 mentors to help tackle specific problems. Barriers and challenges faced by entrepreneurs might require technical assistance or advice in accessing export markets. Enterprise Ireland has a larger mentor panel with about 350 members, which is also available to start-ups on a case-by-case basis.

In light of the above, John concludes by telling us that there has never been a better time to start a business in Ireland – and those considering such a move should visit their Local Enterprise Office.

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John Magee
John Magee is Head of Mayo Enterprise. John’s primary focus is to further develop Mayo’s indigenous enterprise sector. He brings a breadth of experience and knowledge of the sector and an excellent working relationship with many of the small businesses in the County to the Local Enterprise Office. His work will include providing a strategic overview of the challenges and opportunities that face the County’s businesses and then working across the entire LEO team to develop and roll out accessible and pragmatic responses to these challenges and opportunities.