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Government Approves Publication of the Legislation to Reform the National Micro and Small Business Support Infrastructure

24th July 2013 - Richard Bruton TD

The Government, at its meeting today (Tuesday), has given its approval to publish the text of the Bill that will see a fundamental restructuring of the model of state support for micro enterprises and small business in Ireland.

The County Enterprise Boards (Dissolution) Bill 2013 will see the dissolution of the existing thirty five County Enterprise Boards and the transfer of their functions, assets and liabilities to Enterprise Ireland. The new model will involve the Local Authorities delivering these functions on behalf of Enterprise Ireland though new Local Enterprise Offices.

This project is the first radical reform of the system for the delivery of State support to micro and small businesses since the establishment of the County Enterprise Boards twenty years ago. This reform will establish a network of first-stop shops which will:

· bring together the micro- and small business supports currently provided by the CEBs, Enterprise Ireland and the Local Authorities in one place
· remove anomalies in the current system and ensure that all micro and small businesses can access supports
· through the establishment of a Centre of Excellence in Enterprise Ireland with responsibility for setting policy and monitoring delivery, ensure delivery of world-class supports for micro- and small business in a uniform manner across the country.

The system will bring about a new level of engagement and interaction at both national and local level in relation to enterprise support and economic recovery and growth. The LEO model has been designed to deliver tailored supports to the highest standards. It will be the First-Stop-Shop for the entrepreneur at local level through which a suite of enterprise supports and business development services will be directly provided and, also, where vital information, advice and guidance can be obtained and access to other State services with supports relevant to micro and small business can be facilitated.

Minister Bruton also today announced that he proposes to appoint Terence O’Rourke, former Managing Partner of KPMG Ireland, as Chairman of Enterprise Ireland, in accordance with the provisions of the Industrial Development (Enterprise Ireland) Act, 1998. Mr O’Rourke today appeared before the Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. Mr O’ Rourke will replace Hugh Cooney who is resigning at the end of July.

Mr O’ Rourke has been an external member of the Interdepartmental Implementation Working Group overseeing the development of the new support system for micro- and small businesses.

Commenting on the approval of the County Enterprise Boards (Dissolution) Bill, Minister Bruton said:

“These reforms are about delivering improved supports, in a better location, to more businesses and ultimately create more jobs.

“Micro and small businesses are the engine of the Irish economy, employing over 650,000 people, and a key part of the Government’s plans for jobs and growth is ensuring that we deliver a truly world-class service for this sector. The County and City Enterprise Boards have been very successful at providing supports to micro and small businesses across the country, and these reforms are aimed at building on that record.

“The changes being introduced will remove anomalies and ensure that businesses employing more than 10 people operating in the domestic market will be able to access supports; will ensure that world-class services are delivered uniformly across the country through the Centre of Excellence in Enterprise Ireland; and will bring together the supports currently delivered by three different bodies in one place.

“A lot of hard work has brought us to this point and I wish to comment the commitment of staff in the CEBs, in my own Department, in Enterprise Ireland, in Local Authorities and the Department of the Environment for their work in getting us to this point. I also wish to pay tribute to the political commitment of Minister Hogan and Minister Perry and the support of the wider business community. I am determined to ensure that with strong implementation of these reforms we can provide more supports to more start-up and small businesses and ultimately create the jobs we so badly need”.

This legislation will be debated in the Dáil in the Autumn.
Commenting on the new Chairman for Enterprise Ireland, Minister Bruton said:

“Terence O’Rourke is a highly-respected professional with vast experience of business in Ireland, and I wish him every success in his tenure as Chairman.

“I want to take this opportunity to express my appreciation and thanks to Hugh Cooney for the commitment, energy and expertise that he brought to the position over the past five years. As Chairman, he steered the Board and the Agency through some of the toughest years that our economy has ever experienced and, while challenges remain, many of the results from EI client companies are good and improving”.

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