Local Councils acting on the jobs plan

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.