The European Union has named Ireland’s Northern and Western region as European Entrepreneurial Region 2018, recognising the “enormous strides” the region has taken to foster entrepreneurship.
The counties Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal, as well as the counties of Connacht – Mayo, Galway, Leitrim, Sligo and Roscommon are all part of the award-winning area.
The award, announced in Brussels by the EU’s Committee of the Regions, goes to the rural Irish region because it has collectively developed policies that are transforming the area 'from adversity to advantage', making it one of the most resilient and ambitious places in Europe.
Speaking at the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) in Galway yesterday, Pat Breen, Minister for Business at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation said: “I am delighted with the announcement that the ‘Northern and Western Region’ has been designated European Entrepreneurial Region 2018 by the European Union.
“New start-ups and small businesses are critical for the Irish economy as a whole and for balanced regional development. I am greatly encouraged to see first-hand the level of entrepreneurial activity in Galway and the genuine talent, commitment and imagination of local entrepreneurs.
“The European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) is a project that identifies and rewards EU regions and cities which show an outstanding and innovative entrepreneurial policy strategy irrespective of their size, wealth and competences.”
LEOs are vital for providing guidance, advice, financial assistance and soft supports. They make training and mentoring accessible to anyone attempting to start up or expand a business.
The offices are particularly important for rural areas, ensuring locally-based support for new and developing businesses. LEOs also offer assistance in pointing out the relevant state supports in place for entrepreneurs.
Breen added: “This award is also a testament to the fact that the LEOs – working with other agencies and organisations – are central to delivering on the ambition of helping people to help themselves, building a culture of entrepreneurship and enterprise, delivering jobs in every county in Ireland.”
The Minister for Community and Rural Affairs, Michael Ring, said: “For me this award is about recognising the risk taker – from entrepreneurs to small business owners and indigenous enterprises growing in scale.
“The Northern and Western region is now finally being recognised as one of the most vibrant, responsive, and entrepreneurial places in Europe. Innovative and creative entrepreneurs across the region have led the way for young people, inspired a generation, and now are operating at a global level; all from the west of Ireland. This is just one example reflected in every corner of this region.
“2018 will be an incredible opportunity to celebrate entrepreneurship as a career, not just for some people but an opportunity for everyone,” Minister Ring added. “Ireland has produced some of the world’s leading entrepreneurs and business people. They are in every sector and industry. This award is another opportunity to tell their story.”