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Factsheet for measure IE-2014-1/2649 – measures in Ireland

Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs)

Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs)

Country Ireland , applies nationwide
Time period Open ended, started on 01 January 2014
Context COVID-19, Digital Transformation, Restructuring Support Instruments
Type Legislations or other statutory regulations
Category Reorientation of business activities
– Change of production/Innovation
Author Roisin Farelly (IRN Publishing) and Eurofound
Measure added 23 June 2022 (updated 14 November 2022)

Background information

Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) are local access branches of Enterprise Ireland, the government organisation responsible for the development and growth of Irish enterprises in world markets. They form a network of 31 regional support centres that combine the expertise of Enterprise Ireland and the broad reach of local authorities in order to provide services to all levels of business, including entrepreneurs, sole traders, micro businesses and small and medium sized companies, in accessing government supports. These supports include access to finance, management advice, and links to training and educational facilities which are often provided through SOLAS, the further education and training authority in Ireland. Local Enterprise Offices are incorporated into local government offices.

The LEOs replaced the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEB), which had their own network and offices. The CEBs had voluntary support from local businesses, which may be lost with the replacement of these boards with LEOs, as it might change the personnel involved.

LEOs also run the annual National Enterprise Awards which highlight the successes of small businesses around the country.

The Business Continuity Voucher 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.

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. The fund is part of the Irish National Digital Strategy.

Content of measure

The instrument caters for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) seeking information and support on growing their business in Ireland, or for any interested party seeking to create an SME in Ireland. The SME criterion implies that companies with over 10 employees operating exclusively in the domestic market are eligible for support. The role of the LEOs is:

  • To drive the development of local enterprises, putting local micro and small businesses at the heart of job creation in Ireland;
  • To drive and support business start-ups and promote a ‘can-do’ business culture;
  • To increase the job potential of new and existing micro and small businesses;
  • To increase the number of innovative businesses with potential to export; and
  • To be proactive in response to the needs of their clients.

Among the services delivered are:

  • Mentoring programmes overseen by Enterprise Ireland;
  • Training and management development programmes overseen by Enterprise Ireland;
  • Pathway into the range of Enterprise Ireland supports for high-growth companies with ambitions to export;
  • Advice on and access to a range of services from across Government, including Revenue, Credit Review Office, the Companies Registration Office;
  • Access to the range of support services – including planning and licensing – offered by the Business Support units of Local Authorities;
  • Access to the various training services offered by SOLAS; and
  • Access to the Microfinance Ireland Loan Fund.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Local Enterprise Offices made available a new 'Business Continuity Voucher' and expanded the 'Trading Online Voucher Scheme'.

Use of measure

Since LEOs were established in 2014, they have contributed to a net increase of 18,640 jobs. Over €81 million has been provided in financing to LEO clients. Nearly 145,000 people have been trained via LEOs. 

According to most recent LEO impact report, 35,729 people are employed across 7,158 LEO-supported companies. 

The strengths of LEOs are in theory the same that County and City Enterprise Boards (CEB) were known for; having staff that are held in high regard and considered to be crucial to the development of SMEs in Ireland.

LEOs provide support for both existing businesses and start-ups. A list of successful SMEs that have benefitted from LEOs can be found here:  Startup stories

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Employees in standard employment
Applies to all businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
Local / regional government
Public employment service
European Funds
National funds

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role No involvement Unknown
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • No involvement
  • Main level of involvement: Unknown


There was no social partner involvement in the formation of LEOs. It was a national government decision to establish LEOs, changing from county boards.

Views and reactions

Before the establishment of LEOs, the IMPACT trade union was critical of the change from city and county enterprise boards, given the latter boards expertise, but their fears have not proven to be founded in practice.



Eurofound (2022), Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs), measure IE-2014-1/2649 (measures in Ireland), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.