What can the Local Enterprise Office do for Your Business?

Are you running a business in County Donegal or are you thinking of starting a new business? Then look no further than the Local Enterprise Office.

Local Enterprise Office Donegal team at the launch of the new LEO with Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD  (centre front)

Local Enterprise Office Donegal team at the launch of the new LEO with Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD (centre front)


Michael Tunney, the Head of Local Enterprise has been working with local businesses and sharing a wealth of business knowledge for almost 30 years. He encourages local business owners and entrepreneurs to take that leap of faith in starting their own business and is on hand to provide the necessary support and advice.

“We are a nation and a county of small and in particular micro enterprises. We need local entrepreneurs and sustainable local business as they create local wealth and employment and contribute to every village, town and parish in the county. Our challenge is to create the environment and conditions which encourages more and more people to set up their own businesses and to work with them to ensure they succeed and grow and ideally export.” said Michael.

The Donegal Local Enterprise Office (LEO) has been in operation since April this year having formally operated as the Donegal County Enterprise Board. The Board had been in operation for over twenty years and had operated as the agency for enterprise promotion and micro business support in the county over this period. The Local Enterprise Office will continue to fulfil this role and function.

What is the Local Enterprise Office and what do they do?

Local Enterprise Office Logo

Local Enterprise Office Logo


The LEO is the “first point of contact” or first stop shop” for anyone in business or thinking about starting a business in Donegal. The LEO provides a range  of supports from information, through training and management development, to mentoring and direct financial support.

The overall aim is to support businesses to achieve their ambitions and to increase the number of successful businesses in the county. Already the LEO is working closely with other Council services to identify funding opportunities to support businesses and sectors within Donegal.

Michael talks about the Local Enterprise team and their wealth of experience in business and is confident that they can help Donegal business’s grow in today’s challenging economy.

“The LEO was launched in April however the staff in the Local Enterprise Office has many years of experience in working with businesses in the county. We have an amazing team of staff who have been with the Board for over 14 years so they all know the business world inside out.

“We are always looking at new opportunities to develop business in Donegal and one of our key initiatives is The Food Coast – Donegal’s Good Food Initiative. Our aim is to promote and develop opportunities for the food sector in Donegal by branding Donegal as a “food county” – a place with a vibrant food culture and food economy. The initiative is open to anyone with an interest in the County’s food sector – from start-up businesses to part-time food producers, from on-farm added value producers to established primary producers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers and restaurant.

“This is only one of a number of initiatives that we are currently driving and we are here to support businesses and entrepreneurs to flourish and grow in Donegal.


Facts about the LEO

The LEO has four key areas of operation-

  • Providing business information, advice and referral
  • Providing enterprise supports such as Start Your Own Business and Small Business Accounts training, mentoring and management development programmes and access to financial assistance both by way of grant aid and/or micro loans.
  • Promotion of entrepreneurship including schools enterprise, youth entrepreneurship, female entrepreneurship and the development of clusters and networks.
  • The provision of local enterprise development services which include contributing to county and area specific development plans, delivery of national initiatives and the development of appropriate enterprise infrastructure.


If you have a business idea and are unsure of where to start you can call the Local Enterprise Office at 0749160735 and arrange to meet with an executive or sign up for one of Start Your Own Business Programmes.

For further information visitwww.localenterprise.ie/donegal


Business Connections Event was an Inspirational Success

The much anticipated Business Connections event was held last Thursday in the Abbey hotel, Donegal Town with over 100 businesses attending the event.

The event kicked off with an array of motivational speakers and a selection of workshops on everything from accessing finance to how to get your business on the map.


(Grainne Kelly with attendees at the Business Connections Event)


(Two budding business entrepreneurs at the Business Connections event in Donegal Town)


(Donna Maskery, Daniel Browne and Sarah Meehan smile for the camera at Connections event)

Motivational speakers Gerry Duffy, John Conaghan and marketing expert Daniel Browne, to name just a few shared inspiration on the tears and triumphs of running your own business in today’s economy.


(Grainne Kelly – Bubblebum)


(Daniel Browne – Ocean FM)


(John Conaghan – Carecall)

Top business moguls Joanne Sweeny Burke founder of Media Box and Grainne Kelly inventor of Bubblebum inspired young business entrepreneurs and business owners alike on how to get on the road to success.


(Joanne Sweeney Burke – Mediabox)


(Yummy business – Kerry O’Donnell – I Want Candy Ireland)

Budding business owner Kerry O’Donnell has been running I Want Candy Ireland, a successful candy buffet business for a year and a half and says that she left the event feeling inspired and motivated.

“The business connections event was brilliant, it was great to see all the businesses come together, I reconnected with so many people and left with so many contacts. The talks were so insightful and answered so many questions I had. I stayed at the event till the bitter end and left on a real motivational high. She laughed.”

Speaking about the struggles of running a successful business Kerry said you have to work at it every day but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Its always a struggle but nothing beats that feeling of pride knowing you own your own business, it has been a dream come true.”

What did they think of the event? 

“The event was extremely well run and the speakers were excellent. It was a wonderful opportunity to connect with established business people and network with other businesses. I have come away inspired and with plenty of new ideas and am grateful for the opportunity to attend a top class conference at my doorstep. Props to Donegal County Council for taking such a pro- active role in supporting new enterprise!
Well done and thank you!

From Christina Irwin


“Yesterday’s event was well run and covered a diverse range of topics that made it well worth attending. It was bonus that it was held in Donegal Town as you normally have to travel to larger cities to attend conferences of this calibre.

Thank you from George Irwin Hardware

“Thank you very much for organising such a great Event yesterday!
There was an excellent atmosphere throughout the day, and the positivity of the Presenters was contagious and appreciated by all. I’m sure people returned to the businesses energised and ready to put what we learned into practice, and to follow up with the contacts they made on the day.
Please let me know if we can be of any assistance in the future.

Yours in Support, Dermot Cunningham, Supported Employment Co-ordinator”

“Thank you for inviting me to exhibit at the Business Connections Event yesterday.  It was a fantastic day with such interesting, inspiring guest speakers.  You should be very proud of yourself today, it truly was a fantastic great day and I left feeling very motivated, positive and enthused.  For anyone who attended yesterday and thinking of setting up a business, I believe that they received great tips, advice, and also possibly instill a real “can do attitude”.

Sandra Dooley, Foroige NFTE Programme

A great day spent at the business connection event held in The Abbey Hotel. Very well organised and executed by all involved so a big thank you. I especially liked Gerry Duffy @32marathons and Grainne Kelly from Bubble Bum

Shelley Leslie, Shelley Leslie Design

New website helps businesses make a decision at the touch of a button, now that’s SPACEial.


The SPACEial Northwest Project is launching a new innovative website that allows users to make business or investment decisions at the touch of a button.

The online project – www.spaceialnw.eu is funded by the European Union’s INTERREG IVA Programme and is being led by the North West Region Crossborder Group with Donegal County Council as its lead implementing council.


The project uses a combination of statistics, remote sensing and GIS technologies to identify changes in the rates and levels of urbanisation.
It also sets out to identify, capture, locate and map the key determinants of growth and to build up a picture of what is happening within the urban boundaries or what is driving these changes to occur.

Not only is the project a website and map viewer it can also help people to make simple everyday decisions like deciding where people send there children to school or where to avail of local sporting facilities.

The SPACEial NW project works by using predictive analysis and examines the impact that variables have on the changing levels of urbanisation and more importantly the impact that such factors could have on settlement patterns in the future.

It is envisaged that by providing greater insights and understanding to past patterns this will enhance the ability of policy makers to predict the outcome of different policy actions, and the achievement of a more sustainable vision for urban and rural communities in the future.


Central to this it will also help improve the quality of comparable data and information to assist with spatial planning, policymaking and service delivery in the North West Region Cross Border Area for many years to come.

The SPACEial NW project is being launched on Wednesday January 22 at the Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny from 10am to 4pm.



Key Speakers include Mr. Niall Cussen, Senior Planning Advisor, Department of Environment, Heritage & Local Government & Dr. Chris Boomer, Development Plan Manager, Department of Environment, Northern Ireland.


You can find out more about this project by visiting our website http://www.spaceialnw.eu, following us on twitter @SPACEialNW or by contacting the Research and Policy Unit, Donegal County Council, Lifford on 074 91 72569.

Sarah to host workshop at Business Connections Event

Sarah Meehan Image

Sarah Meehan, who has been to the fore in the marketing and promotion of the successful Donegal Gathering is set to host a workshop for businesses at the Business Connections event in Donegal Town on February 6.

Sarah, a native of Letterkenny and one of the few people, who have been working with the Donegal Gathering from the outset, highlights how she got involved with what has become one of the most successful branding initiatives in recent years.

“Donegal County Council employed me as Marketing Officer for Donegal Gathering. I have been working on the project for two years now. It is an amazing project to be working in and I have loved having the opportunity to put my skills to work promoting Donegal. Initially, I was responsible for setting up the website, social media strategy and advising on the branding process. This then evolved into managing and driving the website, social media and the PR.’

‘Indeed the Donegal Gathering has been a huge success; the website www.donegalgathering.com has had in excess of 150,000 hits from every continent on the globe. There are Donegal people all over the world and they are so interested in knowing what is going on in the county; but for me the success comes down to one simple fact. We have a great product, Donegal! I believe that the strength of this product can be attributed to two critical ingredients; the warmth of the people and the beauty of landscape. I am always struck by how impressed visitors are when they come here. Many of my closest friends are people who came to study in the LYIT and have put down their roots here upon completion of their studies. I feel that this is a testament to my point.”

Sarah thinks that the Donegal Gathering can only get stronger as there really is no place like home.

“Donegal County Council has confirmed that the Gathering website will continue throughout 2014 and beyond. One of the biggest lessons that we have learned from the year of the Gathering has been the benefit that the entire county can enjoy from having a co-ordinated platform that can convey all that is positive about this county. From my own family, I know how important it is for so many to feel that they can keep in touch with what is happening at home.’

While supporting many projects Sarah is set to host a workshop at the Business Connections event which helps young entrepreneurs set up their own business and helps existing businesses grow.

She is set to give an insightful talk at the event on February 6 and highlights why marketing is key for a business to strive in today’s society.

“Marketing is crucial for any business regardless of the industry. The heart of any business success lies in its marketing, it is an important aspect of growing your business, and is an investment that will pay for itself over and over again. Strategic marketing of a company’s products, services and brand can mean the difference between success and failure.  Many businesses think that you need a large budget to market a product, but there are many low cost marketing options out there.”

Sarah encourages all business owners and entrepreneurs alike to come and avail of the free workshop.

“The event is a fantastic opportunity to bring young entrepreneurs together from both North and South of the border.’

‘This is a great opportunity for anybody who is interested in business, setting up a business or indeed those who are in business. It is also a great opportunity to actively make new valuable business connections.’

‘There will be an array of guest speakers on different relevant topic areas relating to business. Daniel Browne from Ocean FM and myself will be speaking at the workshop. We will be talking about marketing campaigns and how to maximise your marketing budget. “she added.

The event is free but places are limited so book now – http://www.donegalcoco.ie/services/communityculturalenterprise/communityenterprise/

For more information on Business Bootcamp -http://www.donegalcoco.ie/NR/rdonlyres/2CAAE625-4A96-49D2-8280-A834CE6E0158/0/BusinessConnectionsEventFlyer.pdf