Local Authorities new role in Job Creation – Hogan

LAs to develop Local Strategies for Economic Development & Enterprise Support

 

 

As part of the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan’s Action Programme for Local Government Reform, Putting People First,   Local Authorities will have a new enhanced role in Local Economic Development. Launching the local government enterprise and jobs strategy – Supporting Economic Recovery and Jobs – Locally, the Minister today, (27 Sept 2012) said: “This strategy is an important framework for local authorities in their development of their local strategies for economic development and enterprise support to drive the Action Plan for Jobs.”

 

“Local authorities provide essential services for business to thrive. The local government system interacts in one form or another with every single one of the quarter of a million enterprises operating in Ireland right across the country, from the large multi-national companies to the small family run businesses. Without the essential services managed and delivered by local authorities, these enterprises would find it hard to do business. The local government enterprise and jobs strategy will focus on helping as many of these businesses retain and create jobs in the very challenging trading environment that they face. In addition, local authorities strongly promote their own areas and provide leadership at local level to support the commercial, cultural and tourist sectors”.  Best practice examples of existing activity in the Strategy include –

 

·         Dublin City Council in partnership with IBM has recently established a “smart city” solutions centre in Dublin, with 200 high-skilled researchers employed.  This project highlights the potential use of open data sources to develop high tech applications, to promote new opportunities for entrepreneurship, new start-ups and links with third level institutions.

·         South Dublin County Council’s Link 2B Active Programme is helping 30 local sports facility providers to market their reduced price offers to the unemployed.  Over 1,000 people have joined the programme since its launch.

·         Donegal County Council, Fáilte Ireland and the EU INTEREG IVa Programme are co-funding a €4.5m capital investment programme, due for completion in 2013, to develop Sliabh Liag as an iconic tourism project to attract 180,000 visitors per annum

·         Cavan County Council has worked with cross-border partners to develop the world’s first UNESCO Geopark covering the Marble Arch caves in Fermanagh, the Cuilcagh Mountains, the Shannon Pot, and the Burren in Cavan.  Total visitors in 2011 were 250,000, including 13,000 school children, and the number of visitors will continue to grow with investment.

·         Louth local authorities, SEAI, FÁS, EI, Chambers of Commerce and local businesses are collaborating in the delivery of onsite energy management support to businesses throughout Co. Louth.  The initiative aims for 60 businesses to achieve a combined annual energy cost saving of €500,000 (10%).

·         Limerick City Council facilitated 49 city centre retailers purchasing reduced rates of car parking from car park operators so they can offer free parking to shoppers based on customer spend.  Reaction from retailers and shoppers has been positive.

·         Waterford City Council has undertaken an innovative project that encompasses the complete regeneration of a large block of derelict commercial property in the heart of Waterford City.  Primarily, this regeneration project is delivered by a combination of the Redundant Apprenticeship Scheme and a Community Employment Scheme.

 

This strategy complements the recent publication of the best practice report on Local Authority Support to Enterprise and Business – Analysis of Economic Templates by the County and City Managers’ Association.   Both documents will provide effective tools for local authorities to enhance and strengthen their activities for economic development of their local areas.  The sectoral strategy includes measures in areas of business charges, local enterprise and business support arrangements, procurement support, local development and community based initiatives, the Green Economy and local government participation in employment support schemes.  It is intended that these measures will complement, and assist in the delivery at a local level, of other actions set out in the Governments’ Action Plan for Jobs.  A draft strategy was published in June and the outcome of a consultation with key stakeholders fed into the development of the final strategy document.   “I look forward to all local authorities extending and deepening their work in this area to maximise job creation and sustain existing employment locally” the Minister concluded.

 

The new enhanced role in economic development and enterprise support will also see local enterprise support services being  integrated with local authorities and the establishment of Local Enterprise Offices – or LEOs – in each authority will provide a strong platform for the local authority economic role.

 

The LEOs will take on the role of County Enterprise Boards and will provide a “one-stop-shop” for the Micro-Enterprise and Small Business Sector, delivering direct enterprise support and coordinating access to other services for business.

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