Written answers

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

County Enterprise Boards

11:00 pm

Photo of Martin FerrisMartin Ferris (Kerry North, Sinn Fein)
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Question 96: To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if funding to county enterprise boards will be reviewed in the next 12 months; and if the criteria under which county enterprise boards are funded will be amended during that time. [7325/09]

Photo of John McGuinnessJohn McGuinness (Minister of State with special responsibility for Trade and Commerce, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Carlow-Kilkenny, Fianna Fail)
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The 35 County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) were set up in 1993 to provide support for small businesses with 10 employees or fewer (micro-enterprises) in the start-up and expansion phases, to promote and develop indigenous micro-enterprise potential and to stimulate economic activity and entrepreneurship at local level. The CEBs deliver a series of Programmes to underpin this role and they can provide both financial and non-financial assistance to a project promoter.

The forms of financial assistance which are available from the CEB network, subject to certain criteria, include Capital Grants, Employment Grants, and Feasibility Study Grants. The provision of non-financial assistance can take the form of a wide range of business advice such as Programmes covering Business Management, Mentoring, E-commerce, Enterprise Education, and Women in Business networks. During 2004, an important review of the role and functions of the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) in the development of micro-enterprises, including the level of financial assistance which they have available to them was conducted on behalf of the Department by Fitzpatricks and Associates. This Review recommended that, in providing assistance to micro-enterprises, CEBs should:

focus more on economic objectives rather than social or local development

that there should be a renewed focus on the core enterprise mission

that the issues of potential deadweight, displacement and duplication should be more systematically and rigorously addressed

and that there should be a move away from direct grant aid to repayable finance as well as a greater provision of soft supports as an alternative to grant aid.

The report of the Small Business Forum published in 2006, further endorsed the key recommendations of the Fitzpatricks Report in relation to the primary micro-enterprise focus of CEB support and assistance. While it is acknowledged that there will be differences in requirements and emphasis in the areas served by the various CEBs, the Department is satisfied that the current micro-enterprise remit of the CEBs should remain their primary focus.

In the context of its key policy role my Department, in association with the CEB Central Coordination Unit within Enterprise Ireland (CCU), and with the CEB network, monitors the level of funding and is reviewing the range of support services offered by the CEBs in the light of the current economic climate. The Capital Allocation to the CEBs for 2009 is €20.8 for provision of supports to micro-enterprise. In 2009 the Boards will continue to be actively involved in the area of economic development and will ensure that available funds are targeted to maximise entrepreneurial development.

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