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John Perry TD, Minister of State for Small Business today officially launched the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Clare at Áras Contae an Chláir in Ennis. Photograph by Arthur Ellis.

Minister launches LEO Clare

MINISTER of State for Small Business, John Perry TD,  officially launched the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Clare at Áras Contae an Chláir in Ennis.

Combining the resources of the Clare County Enterprise Board and Clare County Council’s business support unit, the Clare Local Enterprise Office (LEO) is one of 31 LEOs around Ireland that is tasked with delivering services and support to businesses within a framework set by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and overseen by Enterprise Ireland.

Minister Perry was joined at today’s launch by the Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council Councillor  John Crowe who described Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as  “the lifeblood of local communities” throughout County Clare.

The Cathaoirleach explained: “Jobs created by the SME sector help to keep employment levels up and emigration levels down which is key to rural communities surviving the economic downturn. LEO Clare offers small business owners the opportunity to learn from the experiences and expertise of others in order to grow and improve their operations. Being able to access finance, training and mentoring locally is a huge step forward for the local SME sector.”

“LEO Clare provides a service that has not previously been provided from one central point. The pooling of expertise and resources at Áras Contae an Chláir will speed up the process for any business seeking assistance – financial, information, training or otherwise,” Mayor Crowe added.

Speaking at Monday’s launch, Tom Coughlan, Chief Executive of Clare County Council said the setting up of the LEO within Clare County Council will add significantly to the local authority’s existing role in assisting economic development in the county.

“LEO Clare will work to ensure that the County’s micro and small businesses can access the support, information and advice that they need and will continue to deliver and expand on the positive work carried out by the Clare County Enterprise Board Ltd. I recognise the valuable contribution that SMEs, which represent 99% of all business in Ireland, make to the creation of employment in this County. In the coming months, we will be developing local enterprise plans putting micro and small business at the heart of job creation locally. ”

Among the initiatives launched by LEO Clare in recent weeks is a new competition to find Clare’s Best Young Entrepreneur, which is being coordinated nationally by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation. €50,000 will be invested in the business models of Clare’s three winning entrepreneurs who will also proceed to regional and national finals with the aim of finding Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur.

The overall winner of Clare’s Best Young Entrepreneur will receive an investment of up to €25,000.

The deadline for entries has been extended to July 31.

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