‘Supporting Economic Recovery and Jobs – Locally’

At the launch of the local government enterprise and jobs draft
strategy – ‘Supporting Economic Recovery and Jobs – Locally’ Phil
Hogan TD, Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government
said: ‘Economic development and economic promotion continue to be
central to the delivery of the other functions under the remit of
Local Authorities, and the sector is sharpening its role as focal
point for local development’.

Minister Hogan was speaking at the launch of the consultation draft of
the Strategy, in fulfilment of a commitment in the Government’s Action
Plan for Jobs. The sector is acutely aware of the need to assist in
the response to the jobs crisis at local level, and assist and network
with other agencies in the delivery of their responses to the crisis.
Examples of existing activity highlighted in the draft Strategy
include:

Ø Offaly County Council’s partnership with businesses which has
helped them reduce water consumption in hotels that significantly
reduced Water Charges. Substantial savings are being obtained by
carrying out a full audit of a premises and implementing recommended
water conservation devices and practices to reduce consumption through
the water meter. Savings achieved have been in the range of 41% to
83% of annual consumption, and a minimum of €1,500 per annum in water
charges, depending on the business.

Ø Longford County Council’s investment of €500,000 in the development
of a business park in Granard, which is facilitating the establishment
of 12 micro enterprises including approx. 50 jobs, with significant
growth potential.

Ø Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council’s Pop-Up Shop initiative
which involved the refurbishment of vacant retail space and
development of a programme for emerging retailers to lease space on
ultra-short term leases. A total of 45 small businesses and/or
co-ops/community organisations had tenancy in the pop-up shops in
2011. Fingal County Council has replicated this model by piloting a
Swords Pop-Up Shop.

Ø Local government has been strongly involved in direct support for
labour activation models including JobBridge and Community Employment
Schemes. Over 1,300 placements have been directly supported by the
sector in 2011 and it is aimed to increase this to a minimum of 2,000
by mid 2013.

The recent Government decision to create a one-stop shop by
integrating the local micro-enterprise support services currently
undertaken by County / City Enterprise Boards with local authorities
and the establishment of Local Enterprise Offices will provide a
strong platform for the local authority economic role and will
significantly boost the ability of local government to play a lead
role in business support locally.

Implementation of the Strategy will commence in the autumn following a
four week consultation.

Minister Hogan stressed that: ‘Local Authorities have an important
role in providing much of the physical infrastructure essential to
support enterprise and promote employment. They deliver essential
services to business and are geared to respond to the needs of local
communities, employers and entrepreneurs, speedily and efficiently.
The sector is acutely aware of the need to assist in the response to
the jobs crisis, and local authorities have been promoting local
economic development for many years; this Strategy adds significantly
to the measures being implemented and planned by the sector.’

Commenting on the Strategy, which will complement and assist in the
delivery at a local level of other actions in the Government’s Action
Plan for Jobs – 2012, the Minister said that: ‘local authorities are
very active and have a critical role in promoting the commercial and
enterprise interests of their areas, working with other State agencies
and local business such as in the tourism, arts, heritage and culture
areas. Improved alignment of the community and local government
sector, along with the forthcoming reform of the local government
sector, will provide additional opportunities to refocus on economic
development and business support’.

Welcoming the active role the local government sector is playing in
implementing the 2012 Action Plan for Jobs, the Minister stated that:
‘Local authorities engage with local enterprises based on local needs
and opportunities’. Commenting on the recent Government decision to
integrate the local micro-enterprise support services currently
undertaken by County and City Enterprise Boards with local
authorities, he concluded by stating: ‘As Local Enterprise Offices
are created in local authorities, the capacity of the sector to
support local businesses and deliver national policy in support of
micro-enterprises will be enhanced’.

The Strategy is being sent to key stakeholders for consultation, and
the Strategy will be finalised so that active implementation can be
underway during Quarter 3 of 2012.

Notes : Action 6.5 of the Action Plan for Jobs – 2012 requires the
Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (DECLG),
Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (DJEI.) and local
authorities to –

“Develop a new sectoral strategy to promote employment, and support
local enterprise by Local Government, to include measures in the area
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. These measures will
complement, and assist in the delivery at a local level, of other
actions set out in this Action Plan”.

A draft of the sectoral Strategy is required to be published for
consultation by the end of June 2012. The Strategy, following the
consultation phase, is to be finalised and implementation commenced by
the end of September 2012.

The draft Strategy document was developed jointly by Department of the
Environment, Community and Local Government, the Department of Jobs,
Enterprise and Innovation and the County and City Managers’
Association.

The draft Strategy includes measures in the area 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
this year’s Action Plan for Jobs and Action Plans for future years.

The Strategy’s purpose is to activate the local authority sectoral
elements of the Action Plan for Jobs, by –

Ø identifying those actions where local authorities have direct
responsibility alongside those actions which cannot be progressed
without the strong sectoral involvement and collaboration, and

Ø providing a framework for the local authorities to develop their
own local strategies in support of the Strategy.