2 Jun 2020

Local Enterprise Office response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Local Enterprise Offices have a wide range of supports for small businesses, including additional supports to assist businesses to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

In relation to specific COVID-19 related supports, these include:

Business Continuity Vouchers
The Business Continuity Voucher, available through Local Enterprise Offices, is designed for businesses across every sector that employ up to 50 people.
The voucher is worth up to €2,500 in third party consultancy costs and could be used by companies and sole traders to develop short-term and long-term strategies to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The goal was to help companies make informed decisions about what immediate measures and remedial actions should be taken, to protect staff and sales. The national deadline for applications was May 15th and over seven hundred applications were received by Local Enterprise office Cork City. The majority of the applications have been processed with all eligible applicants approved and plans being implemented in many of these already. Over €1.5 million of voucher supports are expected to be approved in Cork City.

Training and Webinars
Local Enterprise Offices have moved training programmes, workshops and networking meet-ups online, covering areas such as cash management in a crisis, leading your business through COVID-19 and advice for employers impacted by the crisis.
Training programmes are generally free of charge and places can be booked online, through the Local Enterprise Office. Over six hundred people have participated in the webinars to date.

New COVID-19 Business Loan
First 6 months – Interest & Repayment Free
New low rate of 4.5% through the Local Enterprise Offices
The COVID-19 Business Loan from Microfinance Ireland (MFI), in partnership with Local Enterprise Offices, is a Government-funded initiative to support small businesses through the current period of uncertainty.
It’s designed for micro-enterprises that are a) having difficulty accessing Bank finance and b) impacted, or may be impacted negatively, by COVID-19 resulting in a reduction of 15% or more in turnover or profit.
Capital expenditure, and in exceptional circumstances working capital loans, may be funded up to 5 years
Under the Local Enterprise Office Mentor Programme, clients work with an experienced mentor to identify solutions to areas of exposure within their business.
With advice and guidance from their mentor, clients develop strategies that are more robust, which address issues and maximise potential opportunities when the COVID-19 crisis comes to an end. Mentoring services are now free of charge and over 80 businesses have availed of this service during COVID-19.

Trading Online Voucher Scheme
Under the Government’s National Digital Strategy, the expanded Trading Online Voucher Scheme helps small businesses with up to 10 employees to trade more online, boost sales and reach new markets. There is up to €2,500 available through the Local Enterprise Offices with co-funding of 10% from the business*.

Training and further business supports are also provided by Local Enterprise Offices,and businesses that have already received a Trading Online Voucher can now apply for a second voucher, where upgrades are required.
Funding can be used towards adding payment facilities or booking systems to your website or developing new apps for your customers. The voucher can also be used towards subscriptions to low cost online retail platform solutions, to help companies quickly establish a retailing presence online.
The current Trading Online Voucher scheme was launched in April 2020 in response to COVID 19. Our office has experienced significant response to this e-commerce support and at the moment we have received applications in excess of our current allocation of vouchers.
As a result of this, the scheme and not in a position to accept any further applications until we receive notification of a further allocation.

Other General LEO Financial Supports
For existing companies and potential start-ups that meet eligibility criteria (such as employing 10 or fewer people with the potential for growth and job creation). Further eligibility criteria apply.
• Business Priming Grants*
• Business Expansion Grants*
• Feasibility Study Grants*
• Technical Assistance for Micro-Exporters Grant*
Applications continue to be received and assessed by the Evaluation and Approvals committee on an ongoing basis.