Everything listed below is available to book through the Cork County Council LEO website. Clients can contact the LEO through email, by phone, or on a social media platform (e.g. Facebook).
LEO Cork North & West:
T: 022 43235 / 023 8834700
E: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com W: www.localenterprise.ie/corknorthandwest
LEO South Cork:
T: 021 4285200 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Advice and Strategy for SMEs
Business Advice Clinics
A Business Advice Clinic is the first ‘port of call’ for most clients to the LEO. Clinics are held regularly in the BGH in County Hall, and in Mallow, Clonakilty, and in selected libraries around the County. Business Advice is also available by phone or video conference, which is how they are being run at the moment.
It is a free one-hour appointment with a Business Adviser on most topics (financial planning, grant queries, business ideas etc.), with the exception of legal advice.
Frequently, the advisor in the Business Advice Clinic will advise the person what to do next. Staff in the LEO get a report on the meeting and make contact with the client where applicable or relevant.
The LEOs have a panel of business advisers, or mentors, to assign to clients for specific needs. ‘Mentoring’ or a ‘mentor assignment’ is where the mentor works with the client for a total of 10 hours. It is one-to-one guidance for a company to get the viewpoint and experience of someone with expertise. In response to COVID-19, currently this is free of charge. Clients must apply directly to the LEO. It is accessible for all SMEs, but not suitable for those who have not yet started their business.
Management Development Programmes
The LEO runs specific programmes for SMEs throughout the year for established businesses. Two of the more well-known are the ‘Accelerate’ Programme and the ‘LEAN’ Programme. These are suitable for clients who have an established business, and they want it to be more effective. They learn from the third-party consultancy how to implement techniques that will make the managing of the business more effective.
Sector Specific Programmes
The LEO runs or sponsors programmes in many sectors throughout the year. These are publicised on our website, and on our social media channels well in advance. If clients are interested, they are best advised to sign up to our newsletter or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, or simply check out website regularly.
A sample includes:
· Women in Entrepreneurship
· Food Programmes and Events
· Third-Level Entrepreneurship
· Tourism Supports
There are strict eligibility criteria for the awarding of grants. Grants are limited to companies that are innovative, and show the potential for (1.) employability and (2.) export. Grants are NOT typically awarded to retail sectors or where the project is deemed to be capable of proceeding in any event without the support of the LEO assistance, particularly where finances are not required. i.e. deadweight.
Trading Online Voucher (TOV)
A Trading Online Voucher is the ‘website grant’. It is designed to get companies trading online through a website. For example, a shop might want to expand to online orders, or a bar/restaurant take table bookings online.
Grant approval must be obtained before any works may commence, and proof of expenditure is required. The grant is up to 90% of the associated costs, or €2500 – whichever is less.
Feasibility Study Grants are designed to assist the promoter with researching market demand for a product or service and examining its sustainability. It includes assistance with innovation including specific consultancy requirements, hiring of expertise from third level colleges private specialists, design and prototype development. The maximum rate of grant aid is €15,000 or 50% of expenditure whichever is the lesser.
A Priming Grant is a business start-up grant, available to micro enterprises within the first 18 months of start-up.
Priming grants may be available for sole traders, partnerships or limited companies that fulfil the following criteria:
· Located and operating within the LEO’s geographic area
· A business which on growth will fit the Enterprise Ireland portfolio
· A business employing up to 10 employees
· A manufacturing or internationally traded services business
· A domestically traded service business with the potential to trade internationally
· Need for money and having regard to deadweight and displacement
The maximum Priming Grant payable shall be 50% of the investment or €80,000 (€150,000 in exceptional circumstances with Ministerial approval) whichever is the lesser.
Business Expansion Grant
The Business Expansion grant is designed to assist the business in its growth phase after the initial 18-month start-up period.
Business Expansion grants may be awarded to sole traders, partnerships or limited companies that fulfil the following criteria:
· Located and operating within the LEO geographic area
· A business, which, on growth, will have the capacity to progress to the Enterprise Ireland portfolio
· A business employing up to 10 employees
· A manufacturing or internationally traded service business
· A domestically traded service business with the potential to trade internationally.
The maximum Business Expansion Grant payable shall be 50% of the investment or €80,000 (€150,000 in exceptional circumstances with Ministerial approval) whichever is the lesser.
TAME (Technical Assistance for Micro Exporters) Grant
Technical Assistance for Micro Exporter’s Grant enables clients to explore and develop new market opportunities. This grants part-funds the costs that can be incurred in investigating and researching export markets, e.g. exhibiting at Trade Fairs, preparing marketing material and developing websites specifically targeting overseas markets. Maximum Grant of €2,500 or 50% of expenditure whichever is the lesser.
The LEO runs a huge range of training courses. These are usually one day, or half-day courses, and currently are being run very successfully online. They are run by third-party companies. Some examples are:
· Start Your Own Business (typically a 4-day/6-evening course)
· Social Media for Business
· Managing your Business Finances
· Review, Revise and Refresh Your Business
· Online Video Marketing
· How to Build a Website
There has been a lot of coverage on national media about government supports for businesses, and most of these are filtered through the LEO. Here are some of the more pertinent ones. The full list of supports and information links are available on the LEO Site.
Business Continuity Voucher
The new 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 can be used by companies and sole traders to develop short-term and long-term strategies to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The goal is to help companies make informed decisions about what immediate measures and remedial actions should be taken, to protect staff and sales.
If your application is successful, a qualified expert will be selected by your Local Enterprise Office to work with you on your business continuity plans. The value of this service is up to a maximum of €2,500.
MFI COVID-19 Business Loan
The COVID-19 Business Loan from Microfinance Ireland is a government initiative to support small businesses through the current period of uncertainty and protect job creation or sustainment in Ireland.
Applications made through the LEO can avail of an APR of 4.5%
· Any business (Sole Trader, Partnership or Limited Company) with less than 10 employees and annual turnover of up to €2m
· Not in a position to avail of finance from Banks and other commercial lending providers
· 15% of actual or projected turnover or profit is negatively impacted by COVID-19
· Loans from €5,000 – €50,000
· Supports businesses who have been impacted negatively by coronovirus in Ireland
· Loan terms typically up to 3 years
· First 6 months – Interest & Repayment free
· No fees/no hidden costs/charges
· Fixed repayments/no penalty for early repayment
COVID Business Advice Clinics
Appointments are available for clients on the phone to give them advice asap. The Clinic Appointment runs much the same way as the Business Advice Clinic, and all meetings are over the phone or by video conference.
The LEO is encouraging all SMEs to familiarise themselves with the possible outcomes of trade negotiation talks, and to look at their current supply chains to establish what, if anything, needs to change. These supports will change as time goes on, and decisions are made.
Brexit Advice Clinics
This is a clinic or phone appointment with someone to talk about your currently supply chains. This can be valuable especially for a client who isn’t aware of ‘weak spots’ and need someone external to diagnose them.
Prepare your Business for Customs
These are day-long courses run by an outside company, who explain the paperwork and Customs considerations for trading outside the EU.