Alliance Wants A ‘SMEnterprise Ireland’

28 May 2020 | 08.05 am

Alliance Wants A ‘SMEnterprise Ireland’

Seven organisations call for state agency for SMEs

28 May 2020 | 08.05 am

The Local Jobs Alliance wants to see a new state agency with a specific focus on SMEs, similar to the IDA or Enterprise Ireland, aimed at developing small firms and helping them grow.

The alliance, formed more than ten years ago, is made up of trade organisations RGDATA, ISME, RAI, LVA, CSNA, VFI and the IHF and represents 24,850 businesses that employ 448,000 people. 

A report prepared by economist Jim Power says that a range of measures are now necessary to ensure that as many small businesses as possible survive the shock of Covid-19, as they will have an essential role to play in rebuilding the Irish economy as the economy is reopened.

The report points out that the IDA and Enterprise Ireland fulfil an important role in achieving their objectives for FDI companies, and Irish companies offering services abroad, but there is no such agency for SMEs servicing the Irish market primarily.

Solvency Supports

A new state body should be established now to drive and support SMEs to reboot the economy, says Power, who recognises that SMEs will become an engine to drive urban and rural regeneration; build social capital; deliver a circular economy; and contribute to much of the social cohesion and community endeavour so evident since the pandemic hit Ireland.

Power said: “Specific Covid-19 measures need to be introduced to cover issues such as liquidity and solvency supports, fiscal grants, lower VAT rates, reduced excise duties, a commercial rates holiday for 12 months, a commercial rent scheme and insurance cost alleviation measures.

“The agenda of an incoming government must include measures  to nurture, support and grow the SME sector, which makes such a strong regional and national economic contribution, and which will play an essential role in rebuilding the economy. “SMEs dominate the Irish economic landscape and account for 99.8% of the total number of business enterprises and  68% of total employment in the private business economy.”

RGDATA director general Tara Buckley (pictured) added: “The one thing SMEs have in common is that they provide local employment in the cities, towns and villages throughout the country, they represent the lifeblood of regional economic activity.  They receive no support from agencies of the state and get very little recognition in official policy making. This is in marked contrast to the FDI component of the economy.”

The full report is available here.

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