Enterprise offices need local business involvement

Chambers Ireland has said that Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) must not become a box-ticking exercise for Local Authorities but are harnessed to their full potential by including input from the local business community.

Chambers Ireland has said that Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) must not become a box-ticking exercise for Local Authorities but are harnessed to their full potential by including input from the local business community.

Speaking this week, Ian Talbot, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive said “While we welcome the introduction of Local Enterprise Offices, it is vital that the structure that is established to support business startups and enterprise includes representation from the local business community. LEOs have the potential to be of real benefit to SMEs and startups in particular by directly providing business support services and acting as a ‘one stop shop’ where SMEs can access information about other existing services and new supports.”

Chambers Ireland recently made a submission on the subject of LEOs to the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, making the following recommendations:

· The roles and functions of LEOs must be clearly defined with no ‘Mission creep’ into areas already provided for by the private sector. There must be no duplication of services. The Terms of Reference for LEOs must be clearly established.

· Members of local business communities should be represented on LEOs at a governance level.

· The services provided by LEOs must be judged using clearly stated indicators. Performance metrics, exclusively focussed on ‘hard’ quantitative and qualitative measurements, must be used to confirm the amount of support activities undertaken for core customers, i.e. business start-ups employing one to nine staff.

·Chambers recognise that Local Authority revenue sources must be broadened to ease the burden on the business community. This must be achieved without compromising the quality of services provided.

· All efforts must be taken to contain costs and produce savings at Local Government level. These savings should be passed on to the business community.

Local Enterprise Offices were introduced by the Government to replace County and City Enterprise Boards and are designed to combine enterprise support at a local level and business support services from Local Authorities into a single Local Enterprise Office located within the Local Authority.