Tuesday, 2 November 2021
Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
Enterprise Support Services
16. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the supports being provided in 2021 by agencies under the remit of his Department to support businesses and jobs in County Longford; the way in which these will be enhanced by budget 2022; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52767/21]
Will the Minister outline the supports provided in 2020 by agencies under the remit of his Department to support businesses and jobs in County Longford and the way in which these supports will be enhanced by budget 2022?
I thank Deputy Flaherty for raising this matter. We focused on the IDA Ireland element in an earlier question. The Department and its agencies provide assistance to businesses in all regions of Ireland, including County Longford, to help them prepare for the challenges and opportunities of the future economy. The Department's core budget increased by €103 million, or 13.2%, in budget 2022. This will significantly assist us in helping businesses rebuild and grow after the pandemic and deal with the impact of Brexit and other challenges.
Enterprise Ireland assists companies in every county of Ireland to start and scale, innovate and remain competitive in international markets. There are 45 Enterprise lreland client companies in Longford, employing 2,959 people in a range of sectors, from consumer foods to digital technologies, and 190 new jobs were created by these companies in 2020. Between 2018 and 2020, Enterprise lreland provided €8.2 million to companies in Longford, including more than €2 million for two infrastructural projects under the regional enterprise development fund to encourage growth and back ambition.
The local enterprise office in Longford continues to be a "first-stop shop" for providing advice and guidance, financial assistance and other measures for those wishing to start or grow their own business and acts as a sign-posting service for all Government assistance available to the SME sector. I compliment the work of the local enterprise offices throughout the past 18 months in helping many companies, including companies new to those local enterprise offices, to manage their businesses through Covid-19 and avail of many business schemes, such as the business continuity voucher and online trading voucher. Many other soft supports were put in place through the local enterprise offices. I am trying to visit as many of those offices as I can to see the work they have done but also to compliment them on the different initiatives they have implemented.
The local enterprise network will receive an additional €2 million in budget 2022 to focus on the dual challenges and opportunities of digitalisation and transitioning to a low-carbon sustainable economy for micro and small companies. The Tánaiste referred earlier to the number of IDA Ireland client companies in the region, at 44. They, too, provide great schemes.
I thank the Minister of State. It is great to see such a strong focus on enterprise and industry in Longford this evening in the replies of both the Minister of State and the Tánaiste. He is correct in emphasising there is a three-pronged approach to job creation and stimulus in the nation, which starts with the local enterprise office. We are extremely lucky to have a very diligent and hard-working local enterprise office in County Longford. Even in recent weeks it has capitalised on the streetscape initiative and I know it secured additional money for that this week.
The message this evening is it is a three-pronged attack and we have a very healthy, strong and vibrant Enterprise Ireland-backed industry in the county. It is also critical we press ahead with plans for an IDA Ireland-backed advanced building solution or advance factory, whatever people call it, which often depends on their age. This is an exciting time for Longford and we have a great opportunity. We are incredibly lucky that my constituency colleague and the colleague of the Minister and Minister of State in the Department, Deputy Robert Troy, is also pushing the Longford agenda hard.
I agree with Deputy Flaherty that Longford has great opportunities open to it and our development agencies are working very hard in the county. The Deputy makes a strong case for Longford, as does the Minister of State in the Department, Deputy Robert Troy, on a daily basis, the Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Deputy Peter Burke, and Senator Micheál Carrigy. When all of us focus our minds, Longford can do extremely well. It is not just across our Department. We are very much taking a whole-of-government approach to driving regional development and making it a sustainable place in which to invest. Longford town has also been very successful with its urban regeneration project. More than €10 million has been provided to fund initiatives that have been well-planned and put together by the local authority over a long number of years. I was delighted to visit the town a couple of years ago when those plans were put in place. Longford is now securing funding for them.
Our message now to all counties is that if they put in place good strategies and plans, the funds are in place through the national development plan, Project Ireland 2040 and our yearly budgets and are to be won or secured in a competitive way. That will happen as long as the strong plans help us achieve regional development and balance, bringing jobs and other investment.