New LEOs will help to bridge the information gap
Wexford Fine Gael Senator Michael D'Arcy has today (Tuesday 3rd June) said that small businesses need to be made more aware of the various Government supports open to them, as he responded to the latest SME Credit Demand Survey, published by the Department of Finance.
“There are a lot of positive trends in this latest survey, which shows that the conditions are continuing to improve for Irish businesses. Three quarters of companies say turnover has increased or stayed the same, and one in four companies have boosted staff numbers.
“But yet again the same trend has emerged in relation to awareness of the State supports available to businesses. For example, three quarters of businesses surveyed were not aware of the Microfinance Loan Fund and more than four in every ten SMEs say they aren’t aware of any Government support initiatives for businesses.
“We need to better communicate the range of supports and schemes which are available to help businesses to access credit and expand their operations. This is where the new network of Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) should make a huge difference; the LEOs will act as a one stop shop in each local authority for all of the supports available to SMEs. This should make it much easier for businesses to get the support they need to become a success.
“The Government has also launched a new online support tool for SMEs (www.localenterprise.ie/smeonlinetool) to help address the information gap. There are more than 80 Government business supports, worth over €2bn, available to SMEs. By clicking through a few simple steps online, SMEs can find out just what supports they can access to boost their business.
“I also think the Government should collaborate more with business interest groups, such as the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME), the Small Firms Association (SFA) and Chambers Ireland, so they can reach out to their members to inform them of the range of supports available.
“Small businesses are playing a vital role in our economic recovery. For this reason, the Government has put a range of supports in place to help them to succeed and create jobs. Now we need to make sure small businesses and start-ups know what supports are out there.”