Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
Regional Enterprise Plans
122. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his specific policies to support enterprise in towns and villages; if his Department is engaging with other Departments on this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44120/20]
In early 2019, my Department launched nine new Regional Enterprise Plans. The principle behind the Plans is collaboration between regional stakeholders on initiatives that can help to realise the region’s enterprise development potential having regard to new and emerging opportunities and challenges, including Brexit and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. These stakeholders include Local Authorities, the LEOs, the enterprise agencies, the Regional Skills Forum, tourism bodies, private sector ‘enterprise champions’ and the Higher Education Institutes.
The nine Year 1 (to end 2019) Progress Reports on implementation of the Regional Enterprise Plans are available on my Department’s website and the final Progress Reports will be published in early 2021.
In addition, my Department’s Regional Enterprise Development Fund was introduced to support the development and implementation of collaborative and innovative projects that can sustain and add to employment at county, regional and national level. The Regional Enterprise Development Fund, which is administered by Enterprise Ireland, has been an effective instrument of policy particularly as a complement to my Department's Regional Enterprise Plans where it has served as an enabler for projects emerging from that regional collaborative process.
There have been three calls under the Fund to date and just over €100 million in funding has been approved across 68 projects, with projects approved in every region.
Ministers Troy, English and I will also be meeting with the Regional Steering Committees to consider the range of COVID-19 and wider economic challenges for their regions and issues arising in relation to vulnerable jobs and sectors and to develop options for additional measures that may be taken for their respective regions.
The process of refreshing the Regional Enterprise Plans for a further two-year cycle will begin in 2021 and the Department will continue to engage with relevant Departments during the new phase of the Regional Enterprise Plans.
On 20thof November last I announced €8.24 million in grants for 95 Enterprise Centres around the country under Enterprise Ireland’s Enterprise Centres Fund. Enterprise Centres are embedded in communities in every county in the country. They provide space and training for entrepreneurs, allowing them to work remotely, access training and advice, and network with other business leaders.
This funding will be crucial as the Centres continue to offer services to local businesses during what is an exceptionally difficult time. It will help the Centres implement a recovery plan for businesses within their remit over the next six to twelve months.