“Louth Local Enterprise Office (LEO) is to lead a programme of two new regional development initiatives that will strengthen SMEs and assist unemployed graduates to become entrepreneurs. This is the first programme of its kind in this country which will contribute to growth in the regions”, says Peter Fitzpatrick, Fine Gael TD for Louth.
“Last week we learned that 75% of the 30,000 jobs created in 2014 came from Irish companies. SMEs and entrepreneurs are the main source of these new jobs, so I am extremely pleased that two new regional development initiatives have been launched in Louth to support them.
“The Louth LEO won funding of €900,000 for the projects following competition against other initiatives from the European Commission’s Eramsus + programme.
“SHIP (SMEs and HEIs in Innovation Partnerships) will help SMEs to access research and training from universities by facilitating relationships between higher education institutions, SMEs and other innovation support organisations.
“While the first part of this programme helps SMES, the second addresses the mismatch of skills between universities and the jobs market. REAL (Regional Education and Employment Alliances) therefore helps unemployed humanities graduates to become entrepreneurs and to a job by encouraging universities, local authorities and business development organisations to work together.
“An important aspect of this programme is that is crosses the border between North and South. Higher level institutions, local authorities and businesses on both sides of the border are encouraged to get involved.
“County Louth has long been a centre of innovation and skills. As well as successfully attracting foreign direct investment like PayPal, many local people have set up their own businesses contributing hugely to the local economy.
“Since the launch of the Action Plan for Jobs, 90,000 new jobs have been created and the Government has set the target of reaching full employment by 2018. It is vital that we ensure that everyone feels the benefit of the economic recovery and assisting local business in all parts of the country is vital to make that happen.”