The Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Clare awarded business development grants totalling more than €375,000 and facilitated training courses and workshops for hundreds of people during 2014.
In LEO Clare’s 8 months of operation from when it opened on 15 April to the end of 2014, 19 business projects were awarded grants totalling €376,800.
2014 also saw 48 training courses and workshops taking place with 441 people attending.
Meanwhile, LEO Clare’s Student Enterprise Programme saw 14 secondary schools at Junior, Intermediate and Senior level partake in a series of one day events and in the Programme’s Enterprise Awards. Overall, 747 students participated in the Student Enterprise Programme.
2014 also saw LEO Clare host the Clare County heat of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur Competition, which attracted applications from 31 young people, aged 30 and under. After a full review of applications, 11 finalists were shortlisted and took part in intensive Business Boot Camps facilitated by Theresa Mulvihil of Smart Marketing Ltd.
Regina Tierney of Kilnamona-based Brigids Mantle, an independent clothing company providing innovative new designs inspired by the West of Ireland, was named overall winner receiving a €20,000 investment in her business. Winner of the ‘Best Idea for a new Business’ category was Steve Markham of hAppie (prize €10,000) while Eric Gargiulo of Delivery Guys Ltd. received €20,000 for winning the ‘Best established Business’ category.
Clare businesses are presently being surveyed with a view to collating and publishing figures relating to the number of jobs created directly and indirectly as a result of LEO support received during 2014. The figures are expected to be available before the end of January.
“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 has clearly streamlined the process for any business seeking assistance – financial, information, training or otherwise,” said Mayor of Clare, Cllr. John Crowe.
“LEO Clare has come across many examples of business men and women who are committed and dedicated to the development of new and existing business, which bodes well for the local economy,” said Tom Coughlan, Chief Executive and Chair of LEO Clare’s Evaluation & Approvals Committee.
He continued: “It is important therefore, that we continue to deliver and expand on the wide range of supports, information and advice offered to the County’s micro and small businesses during 2015.”
Betty Devanny, Senior Enterprise Development Officer, LEO Clare, added: “The Clare stage of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur highlights the level of entrepreneurial activity ongoing in County Clare and of the important role that LEO Clare has to play in supporting small businesses and those seeking to develop a new business idea. This is further demonstrated by the support given by LEO Clare to the CREATE initiative, FBD Clare Business Excellence Awards and the Food Start Programme during 2014.”
Combining the resources of the Clare County Enterprise Board and Clare County Council’s business support unit, LEO Clare is one of 31 LEOs around Ireland that are 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.
LEO Clare is complemented by a national Centre of Excellence providing support to entrepreneurs and small businesses in the execution of a national micro enterprise policy. The functions of the Centre of Excellence include operating Service Level Agreements between Enterprise Ireland and the Local Authorities and driving progression of high potential companies from the LEO network to Enterprise Ireland.