Small business employment up – but further costs down the line

Cork County Council staff pictured at the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) in Spa House, Mallow as the annual results of the LEOs for 2021 shows it contributed to the creation of 130 net jobs in the region, l-r: Dean Meaney, Joan Kelleher, Kevin Curran, Cathal de Baróid, Sharon Corcoran and Ger Hyland (administrator). (Picture: Sean Jefferies Photography)

Small businesses throughout Cork and Limerick are being supported through grants towards salary costs, equipment, websites and training through their Local Enterprise Office (LEO), with almost 500 jobs created throughout Limerick and North and West Cork as a result.

The latest figures show that Waterford LEO are assisting with the current employment of 1199 people across 280 companies.

The LEOs are the department of the council responsible for dealing with entrepreneurs and start-up businesses. In 2021, the LEO in Limerick assisted in the creation of 179 net new jobs, while Cork County Council’s Mallow-based enterprise office reported an increase of 10%, with 130 net new companies supported. Waterford LEO reported a net increase of 108 jobs supported in 2021.

LEO Waterford approved almost €886,189 in grants in 2021 to 32 companies. Eight of these were food manufacturing businesses, following on from Waterford’s success in food production in recent years and ten winners in the Blas na hEireann Awards in 2021.

The Limerick Local Enterprise Office currently supports over 298 small businesses, while the Cork North & West office supports a similiar number of 268, and Waterford 280.

The purpose of the Local Enterprise Office is to help businesses ‘find their feet’, and in a speech on Monday, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar commended the services and the small businesses that faced ‘the perfect storm’.

“In 2021 Ireland’s small business community faced the perfect storm: Brexit, international supply chain issues and a pandemic. For big business these conditions can be extremely challenging, for a small business they can be critical.”


Mr Varadkar also pointed to new reforms that are coming in soon to protect worker’s rights, including new pension schemes.

“There will be five new rights – statutory sick pay, the right to request remote working, the protection of tips, new redundancy rights for people laid off during the pandemic and an additional public holiday, to bring us in line with our European peers. We will also make progress on auto-enrolment ensuring that everyone has access to an occupational pension to supplement the State one.”

He went on to state that these introductions were necessary to retain skilled staff, while also pledging to campaign for a reduction in childcare costs.

“I know to many of you that might sound like a list of extra costs, but I believe the pandemic has prompted a permanent shift in the way we perceive work and the broader economy”.