Kildare Local Enterprise Office (LEO) has been at the forefront in the implementation of urgent actions to help address the crisis local business owner/managers are currently facing with the pandemic.
For most small businesses, survival is the over-riding objective currently. Sales have significantly decreased or completely evaporated for many businesses overnight and the pace and depth of the economic shock is unprecedented.
Speaking on measures to address the COVID-19 emergency, the Head of Enterprise in Kildare Jacqui Mcnabb said: “This immediate change to our circumstances called for a root and branch, pivotal refocus of all services provided by the LEO and the way they are delivered. We have responded decisively to this immediate challenge through the implementation of urgent and necessary actions, focused on addressing the crisis to our SMEs. Businesses need to know that there is support available to them and we are working with many businesses impacted by this crisis to provide them with sound advice so that they can assess their options and make the best decisions.”
Kildare LEO took immediate actions such as suspending repayments due from repayable grants for an initial three-month period, creating emergency programmes to help businesses manage the crisis, and providing advice to struggling businesses on government schemes to help them cope.
A new emergency loan scheme was created with Microfinance Ireland, the “COVID-19 Business Loan”, in which businesses with less than 10 employees can access up to €50,000 with 0% interest for six months and a six-month moratorium on repayments. Kildare businesses are encouraged to apply through LEO Kildare to receive a 1% discount on the APR after the initial six-month period, in addition to mentoring to increase their chances of getting their application accepted.
A new Business Continuity Voucher was launched this week by Minister Heather Humphreys and SMEs with up to 50 employees can apply for this through the LEO. It enables a small business access specialist expertise and advice in putting in place a strategy to deal with COVID-19.
Speaking on the importance of engaging with your Local Enterprise Office, Cathaoirleach of Kildare, Cllr Suzanne Doyle said: “SMEs in our County are one of our most valuable sources of employment, they also play a vital role in the fabric of our communities. The Local Enterprise Office is there to support County Kildare businesses and will be a valuable resource for our SMEs in the weeks and months ahead as they deal with this unprecedented crisis”.
LEO Kildare was first in Ireland to introduce two new, 5-day online offerings which have been hastily organised specifically to help business owner/managers address the pandemic: the “Leading Your Business Through COVID-19” and “Cash Management in a Crisis” programmes. A long with a suite of other online interactive workshops both are currently free of charge to County Kildare businesses and have been very well received, with each course booking out within minutes of being published to Kildare clients. Business owners are encouraged to email their Expressions of Interest for support or these programs to email@example.com
Chief Executive of Kildare County Council, Peter Carey, concluded: “It is important that business owners and operators know that the LEO Office is still supporting them and their services during this emergency. They have changed their focus from assisting businesses to grow, to helping them survive and protect as many jobs as possible.”
Businesses seeking support to assist with business continuity connected to the COVID-19 outbreak, may apply for a Business Continuity Voucher announced by Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys T.D. The voucher is valued at €2,500 and can be used by small companies; of up to 50 employees, and sole traders to develop short- and long-term strategies to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, to help business owners make informed decisions about immediate measures and remedial actions to protect staff and sales.
For a comprehensive list of the latest information and supports available to Kildare businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit the LEO Kildare website www.localenterprise.ie/Kildare and sign up to the “ Kildare Enterprise News” ezine to receive updates straight to your inbox.
Ends 30 March 2020
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