Against a backdrop of a reduced role for local authorities in several areas, Westmeath County Council is to gain new responsibilities in the areas of enterprise and community development.
A Local Enterprise Office (LEO ) is to come into operation later this month, while the council is also preparing to establish a Local Community Development Committee (LCDC ) to oversee economic and community activity in the county.
The LEO will replace the former County Enterprise Board, and will be the first point of contact for all small businesses looking for support and advice. Westmeath’s LEO will help businesses interested in anything from grants and business loans, to start-up advice, training, and other supports.
The new LEO will be based on the ground floor of the County Buildings in Mullingar, and there are also plans in place to establish an enterprise office in Athlone.
The LCDC will be responsible for planning local community development programmes and for overseeing the delivery of these programmes across the county. It will also be involved in applying for LEADER funding.
The LCDC will have a maximum of 15 members, including the county manager, three elected members, representatives of State agencies including the HSE and the Education and Training Board, business interests, and community and voluntary forums.