THE importance of collaboration among enterprises was one of the main points spelled out at the launch of the 2016 FBD Clare Business Excellence Awards.
A large attendance of business people from around the county, including past finalists, attended the formal launch of the awards by Minister of State for Employment and Small Business Pat Breen in the Temple Gate Hotel.
To address the issue of access to credit for small businesses, Deputy Breen took the opportunity to highlight the work of the Credit Review Office and also to make an announcement in relation to Microfinance Ireland. As and from July 1, the microfinance lending rate for businesses will be reduced from its current rate of 8.8% to 7.8%, with an additional 1% reduction for client businesses of a Local Enterprise Office, including Clare.
Deputy Breen also stated his commitment to the Advisory Group for Small Business, for which he is the chair. He referred to the fact that the group has had a number of proposals accepted and included in the Action Plan for Jobs.
This plan aims to increase employment in the Mid-West by 10 to 15% by 2020 and Ennis will be targetted to develop its strengths as a cultural hub, visitor destination and general business environment.
He endorsed the Government’s commitment to nurture and support entrepreneurial culture, referring to the first National Statement on Entrepreneurship in 2014.
President of Ennis Chamber Jean McCabe announced details of the new prize package for the overall winner worth more than €10,000, consisting of a significant web design and development package supported by Acton Web and a CreateSend email-marketing platform, as well as a business suite of services from Cahill Taxation, Elaine Ryan HR and Cahir & Co Solicitors.
She acknowledged the support of FBD, as well as AIB, Dublin Coach, Clare Local Enterprise Office, Virgin Media, Essilor, Microsemi, Energia, Shannon Airport and Ulster Bank, as well as the launch supporters Bank of Ireland.
Ms McCabe said, “As president this year in the Ennis Chamber, I guess I am one of the more lucky presidents of recent years as an air of positively lingers. Not every sector may have felt the upturn as yet but I would be quietly confident that it will filter its way down.
“With growth comes more jobs, investment into our businesses and our communities. It’s imperative that the opportunity to invest back into our business is highlighted and that any increase to our cost base would hamper that opportunity.”
Colin Ryan, branch manager at Bank of Ireland, highlighted the need to support business through the awards and paid tribute to all of the fellow supporters for their continued commitment to ensuring businesses in Clare could avail of the opportunity.
FBD Ennis branch manager Ide O’Keeffe urged all businesses from across the county and across the various sectors to enter the awards to gain the recognition they deserve.
David Fitzsimons from Ennis-based Retail Excellence Ireland spoke of the importance of credit for small businesses, in order to foster growth. He also highlighted the work of Clare County Council and Ennis Chamber at the recent Retail Excellence Retreat in their efforts to attract new business to Ennis, which should see the opening of three additional businesses in the town.
Barry Pactor, group managing director of TTM Healthcare, recounted how the company grew from a Start Your Own Business course and funding from the then County Enterprise Board to a company with an expected turnover of €70 million, employing €1,500 healthcare professionals.
Mr Pactor went on to say that TTM Healthcare would welcome the opportunity to share their experience by collaborating with other businesses in the region in looking at new opportunities.
The breakfast briefing was brought to a close by Ennis Chamber CEO Rita McInerney, who encouraged all businesses in the county to consider entering at least one of the nine categories.
Ms McInerney believes it is important that businesses use the awards programme as a way to measure their business’s progress and standards.
She went on the say that the feedback report, which every entrant will receive from the independent judges’ customer perceptions, is an invaluable resource that will assist them in enhancing their product or service offering, as well as imputing into future plans.