Thousands more Irish companies will now be eligible for Government export grants in a move that Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said will fill a crucial gap and help strengthen Ireland’s indigenous SMEs.
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The Government has decided to extend the mandate of the Local Enterprise Offices to target new exporters by providing direct grants to firms who employ more than ten and are operating in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors.
In future years, it is intended to further expand the range of advisory services available to all companies with up to 50 employees, including those operating in the locally traded sector.
The decision fulfils a Programme for Government commitment to ensure a continuation of support for enterprises that have grown above ten staff.
It builds on the new Enterprise Ireland strategy which sets out a commitment to ensure a continuation of assistance for enterprises that have grown to 10 or more employees, as appropriate to their stage of development and internationalisation ambition.
The strategy also commits Enterprise Ireland to working with the LEOs, to ensure that companies of all sizes are assisted on their development journey, maximising their growth and job creation potential.
The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment said: “This extension of the LEO mandate will fill a gap in state supports for those businesses with greater than ten employees. Working closely with Enterprise Ireland, it will allow the LEOs to provide grants to help firms to have the ambition to export.
"Our broader vision is to further expand the advisory role of the LEOs in a way that gives them a consistently broader reach into the business community across all regions and this will be reflected in our White Paper on Enterprise Policy.
“Since 2014 the network of 31 Local Enterprise Offices has grown and they are now well established as the first stop shop for all businesses and entrepreneurs. They have evolved in the provision of services including direct grant aid to microenterprises that wanted to grow internationally and training and advisory programmes to a broader cohort of companies including those trading locally.
"The assistance they provide will be critical to helping firms to be more productive, to digitise and to reduce their carbon footprint – key priorities for the Government and for business.” ■