An extension by the Government of the mandate of Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) will mean that thousands more small businesses here will be eligible for export grants.
Under the move the LEOs will be able to give assistance directly to companies that have over ten employees which are operating in manufacturing and international traded services.
The policy change will mean more companies with exporting potential will be targeted with State financial help.
Subsequently there will also be additional advisory services available to all companies with up to 50 employees, including those operating in the locally traded sector.
“This extension of the LEO mandate will fill a gap in state supports for those businesses with greater than ten employees,” said Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar.
“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.”
The Government had made a commitment in the Programme for Government that firms with more than ten staff would receive continued support.
Enterprise Ireland, which has a new strategy, will also work with the LEOs to help them to assist companies of all sizes.
The idea is to develop the enterprise development structures so that there is an uninterrupted system of support from LEOs through to Enterprise Ireland.
The process of applying for EI or LEO assistance will also be streamlined to give a clear series of progressive steps, through feasibility grants, priming grants, business expansion grants, technical assistance for micro exporters grants and green start grants.
Next year, LEOs will pilot a programme to give capital grants to small firms to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.