Minister praises LEO Covid response

Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail Damien English said the Local Enterprise Office had “really stepped up” in response to the Covid crisis as he visited a number of local businesses in the county on Thursday last.

  As part of his visit, the Minister met with Roscommon County Council Leas-Cathaoirleach Cllr. Orla Leyden and LEO Head of Enterprise Louise Ward, as well as local Senators Frank Feighan, Aisling Dolan and Eugene Murphy.

  He also visited LEO client companies including Studio Meala, Pro Cloud, Mark Lohan Kitchens, and Lidan Designs (see People Business, page 38).

  “It is great to be here and to learn about the work underway by the Council and the Local Enterprise Office and also to hear about their future plans,” he said.

  “LEO has really stepped up in relation to the Covid response and a big part of our work is driving the digital agenda and helping companies go online. The Trading Online Voucher was a massive piece of work that happened over the last two years. In Roscommon, over 250 companies availed of that voucher, which is a really positive development,” he said.

  Minister English encouraged people to contact LEO if they were thinking of starting a business in the county.

  “The Roscommon office is very much like a family; they’re very hands-on and they have the time to spend with companies and help them grow. What we’re trying to do is to develop the relationship between LEO and Enterprise Ireland.

  “You want to see jobs grow here in Roscommon and there’s a lot of opportunity for LEO and Enterprise to work with that. They’ve a very good course here to help support farmers start a business and I haven’t come across that anywhere else”.

  Addressing business owners’ concerns around the availability of staff post-Covid, Minister English highlighted a number of supports.

  “Every conversation we have with a business owner is that they can’t get staff…we are asking all businesses to work with us around training and education solutions. Over the last 7 or 8 years our education system has become a lot more enterprise facing. I would ask more businesses to engage in the Regional Skills Fora,” he said.

  He encouraged businesses to carry out a skills audit with LEO and to engage with the local Intreo office.

  “There are about 50,000 people coming off PUP (Pandemic Unemployment Payment) in the last week. We’ve a range of programmes now through ‘Pathways to Work’, which subsidise schemes such as job placement, where the State would pay for the first six months for somebody to come and work in your business,” he said.

  Addressing Government support when it comes to business development and job creation in Roscommon, Minister English said: “I’m not going to do promises because that doesn’t work in politics anymore. What we can say is that we’re here to work with communities in Roscommon. There’s a fair amount of capital money available to businesses and community groups who want to work with us.

  “LEO alone work with a couple of hundred companies and are responsible for nearly 1,000 jobs…Enterprise Ireland have grown their base here too. The IDA, under their new strategy, are committing to at least 50 per cent of their companies locating outside Dublin and Cork. They will be looking to regions like Roscommon.

  “You have to work with these agencies to bring forward land banks, infrastructure, and it’s really important that the local authority in Roscommon take the lead on that and drive on with it. I believe there’s a lot of opportunity here. I drove through Boyle a few years ago and could see a lot of dereliction and vacancies. Go through it more recently and it’s a vibrant town again, it’s flying”.