Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar has announced a total of €8.24 million in grants to 95 enterprise centres throughout the country under Enterprise Ireland’s Enterprise Centres Fund. The funding comes as hubs around the country implement a recovery plan for businesses within their remit over the next six to 12 months.
Mr Varadkar said the funding made available through his Department would help enterprise centres all over the country modernise their facilities, protecting the health and safety of people working there and helping to secure jobs. The 95 centres will receive grants ranging in size from €10,000 to €150,000.
A major analysis of the sector earlier this year shone a light on the devastating effects Covid-19 has wrought on enterprise centres in every county, with almost 88% of centres reporting a drop in income of between 21% and 80% as many of their entrepreneur tenants struggled to keep their own businesses afloat.
Among its stark findings were that while the vast majority of hubs had seen tenants closing their doors temporarily (83.5%), one-third (33%) of centres said some tenants have shuttered their businesses permanently.
According to the NACEC Strategic Plan 2019-2021 launched last year, its enterprise hub members supported over 5,500 jobs in over 1,800 businesses, with a salary contribution to the economy of €247.5 million per annum.
The chairperson of the National Association of Community Enterprise Centres (NACEC), Gary O’Meara, welcomed today’s funding announcement, saying it was the culmination of months of research and collaboration between NACEC, Enterprise Ireland, the Dept of Enterprise and other key stakeholders from across the public and private sector.
"Hubs, if managed correctly, have the potential to really drive economic activity and social prosperity throughout our regions and across rural Ireland, and I believe NACEC is now very well placed to help make these new future of work opportunities a reality," O'Meara said.