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L-R Damien English TD, Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Cllr Ann Norton, Mayor of Ennis, Padraic McElwee, Head of Enterprise Clare Local Enterprise Office and John Mulleady, AiP Thermoform. .Pic Arthur Ellis.

SME determination lauded by minister

Deputy English praises the hard work of Clare LEO for supportive role

THE “determination of the indigenous SME sector to succeed in the Mid-West” has been praised by a Minister of State on a visit to Clare.
Damien English, Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, met with the Clare Local Enterprise Office (LEO), as part of a series of nationwide visits to meet the LEO teams and engage with some of their client companies.
Minister English said, “The Local Enterprise Office in Clare have worked hard with businesses across the county over the past 18 months and have continued to offer exceptional services such as mentoring, training, upskilling and financial supports during the pandemic.
“I am grateful to Padraic McElwee and the LEO team for helping local firms stay afloat and protecting local job opportunities, and especially for their commitment in assisting businesses to make the transition to online trading.
“People have shown that by ‘Looking for Local’ a big impact can be made on communities through supporting our local businesses.
“Consumers can enjoy first class products, services, and experiences on their doorstep in Clare, and by supporting ‘Look for Local’, they will help ensure positive economic, environmental and societal impacts that will benefit all in the community.”
Beginning the day at Clare County Council, Minister English was greeted by Councillor PJ Ryan, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, Pat Dowling, Chief Executive and Liam Conneally, Director of Service and Economic Development at Clare County Council.
The Minister met with Oireachtas members and local councillors to discuss enterprise development on the ground in County Clare.
This was followed by discussions with the Clare LEO team and members of the Evaluation and Approvals Committee who informed the Minister of the news coming from the Clare LEO client companies.
The Minister then paid a visit to John Mulleady, owner of AiP Thermoform. For over two decades AiP have provided a bespoke packaging service to the electronic, automotive and pharmaceutical sectors.
The Minister then travelled to Hassett Precision Engineering Ltd, another client company of Clare LEO.
The company was set up by Bob Hassett in 1998 and has grown from a two-man start-up in a small workshop to employing nine people in an 8,000 sq. ft purpose-built premises in Smithstown, Shannon.
The business manufactures parts for the medical, machine building, electronics, fabrication, aerospace and automotive industries and works on high and low volume, one-off and large project productions.
Minister English concluded the day with a visit to the Future Mobility Campus Ireland (FMCI).
This project will see a 13km private road-testing facility being built for driver-less vehicles and leading companies in the autonomous vehicle sector.
The facility will be made available to companies such as Jaguar Land Rover, Cisco, AMAX Engineering, Taoglas, Mergon International, General Motors, Analog Devices, Valeo, SGS, PiPiper, Transpoco, Arralis and Arup.
The FMCI project intends to deliver a connected and autonomous vehicle test facility in real-world settings that would provide tech companies and researchers with the ability to test and enhance their innovations here in Ireland.
On conclusion of his visit, Minister English also said, “The positive engagements in Clare illustrates the determination of the indigenous SME sector to succeed in the Mid-West.
“It is a sure sign of a positive future for economic development and growth in local enterprise as the economy continues to exit the pandemic and get back to more normal trading conditions,” the minister concluded.

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