The aim of the Business Support Unit is to support entrepreneurs and their new enterprises and also help the development and growth of existing businesses in the County.
Business Incentive Scheme


Laois County Council have introduced a Business Incentive Scheme to encourage the use of vacant commercial premises within designated areas of Portlaoise, Mountmellick, Abbeyleix, Rathdowney (Rathdowney Outlet included) & Portarlington over a three year period.  This incentive scheme will assist new commercial businesses to set up in the traditional retailing commercial and social heart of each town.


With limited resources it is challenging for County Councils to implement initiatives to encourage new businesses to establish in commercial areas in economic decline.  However, having considered the commercial reality of business in the above towns, Laois County Council is pleased to announce a Business Incentive Scheme to encourage the use of vacant commercial premises in the designated areas.

The intent of the scheme is to provide a grant incentive for new businesses to locate in premises that have been vacant for a period exceeding six months and to encourage diversity of retail opportunities within a designated area.

This grant can provide the financial assistance that makes it attractive for new business to consider setting up in areas where there are a number of vacant shop units.  These premises are at present not yielding any rates income for the Council.

Business Incentive Scheme Application Form

Abbeyleix Business Incentive Scheme 2020 For Vacant Premises

Mountmellick Business Incentive Scheme 2020 For Vacant Premises

Mountrath Business Incentive Scheme 2020 For Vacant Premises

Portarlington Business Incentive Scheme 2020 For Vacant Premises

Portlaoise Business Incentive Scheme 2020 For Vacant Premises

Rathdowney Business Incentive Scheme 2020 For Vacant Premises

Objectives of the Scheme

  • Promote the development and enhancement of retail floor space in the town centres.
  • Enhance the vitality and viability of the town centre and commercial well being of the towns.
  • Support the continued role of the town centres and its primacy in the retail hierarchy.
  • Encourage new businesses to occupy commercial premises/shops that have been vacant over a period of time.
  • Encourage diversity of retail opportunities within the town centre/retail core area of Portlaoise.
  • Provide limited financial assistance to make it more attractive for new businesses to establish in areas where there are vacant shops.
  • Provide rates income to Laois County Council that otherwise would not be available.
  • Job creation and employment.

Eligibility Criteria for the Business Incentive Scheme

  • The shop unit must be rated or rateable.
  • Premises vacant for more than six months would be eligible for a grant of 75% of rates in Year 1, 50% in Year 2 & 25% in Year 3.
  • Three years would be the maximum allowed for the grant regardless of the period the premises has been vacant.
  • In Year 4 the full amount of the rates due must be paid in the financial year.
  • The property must be owned by the applicant or subject to a minimum 12 month lease. Evidence of rent/lease agreement to be provided.
  • The scheme shall not apply to any business or person who owes money to Laois County Council at another location.
  • The scheme shall apply to the use of authorised premises only (where is unauthorised development or ongoing enforcement under planning legislation this should be regularised in advance of any application).

Building location

The building must be situated as marked on relevant map.

Abbeyleix B.I.S Map

Mountmellick B.I.S Map

Mountrath B.I.S Map

Portarlington B.I.S Map

Portlaoise B.I.S Map

Rathdowney B.I.S Map



History of being vacant

The building must be an existing building that has been vacant continuously for a period of more than six months.  The Council may ask for evidence that a building has been vacant for the specified period.  A building may be deemed to be vacant if the building has not been used for any retail, commercial or other business activity.

Proposed Use

The grant awarded to successful applicants shall only apply to the following types of premises associated with establishing a new business:

  • Use as a shop as defined under Class 1 of the Planning & Development Regulations 2001 (and any subsequent amendments).
  • Office use as per Class 2 and 3 of the aforementioned regulations.
  • Use for medical or health professional clinics.
  • Use as a crèche, day nursery or day centre.

Uses not covered by the Scheme

  • Takeaways
  • Amusement arcades or premises with gaming machines
  • Head Shops
  • Betting Offices
  • Nightclubs/Public Houses
  • Unwanted Jewellery (Cash for Gold) or clothes (Cash for Clothes)
  • Premises where unauthorised development has taken place or which are subject to enforcement proceedings.
  • Business relocating to a similar sized premises within Portlaoise will not qualify for grant relief under the scheme.

Payment of Grant Aid

  • A tax clearance certificate will be required as part of the application.
  • All approved applicants must sign up to the payment of rates by Standing Order and amount payable must be paid in full in the financial year applicable. Failure to adhere to this will result in the grant being withdrawn.

Other Charges

It should be noted that this grant does not apply to fees associated with other approvals which may be required to be obtained from the Council i.e. planning fees, licences under Section 254 of the Planning & Development Act 2000, as amended, commercial water/waste water and development contributions.

Other Initiatives

  • A number of initiatives will assist with this strategy:
  • Public Area Enhancement Scheme
  • Pilot Painting Scheme
  • Pilot Pop Up Shop Scheme
  • New Shop Front Scheme
  • Creative use of shop-windows to vacant ground floor retail or commercial units as exhibition or display space
  • Floral Displays
  • Erection of signage
  • Christmas Lighting

The Council wish to acknowledge the work of former Town Council’s, Municipal Districts & relevant committees in each town and the various departments in Laois County Council that have assisted the process.

Any queries in relation to the scheme should be directed to: Linda Meredith, Business Support Unit, (057) 8664133,

Portlaoise Facade Enhancement Scheme (Pilot)


In accordance with the report “A Vision for Portlaoise – A Strategy for a better Town Centre” Laois County Council is seeking to improve the streetscape and public realm of Portlaoise Town.  Lower Main Street, Bridge Street & the Well Road (areas designated on map below) is the first phase being addressed by this pilot grant scheme which will assist owners of properties to improve and enhance their premises through the painting of exterior buildings both commercial and residential.

Making an Application

  • The applicant must indicate their legal interest in the property.
  • The applicant must provide written consent from the owner if lease or tenant.
  • The completed application form must be signed by the applicant.
  • Completed forms should be returned to Linda Meredith, Business Support Unit, Laois County Council, County Hall, Portlaoise, Co Laois on or before 7th December, 2018.
  • Incomplete application forms may delay processing and may result in the application not being considered.
  • Photographs of the property must be included with the application.
  • The scheme is being conducted in association with Crown Paints. Laois County Council will provide the paints.  The applicant cannot use their own paints.
  • The colour must be chosen from a colour palette specifically developed by Crown Paints in association with Laois County Council.

Terms and Conditions of Portlaoise Facade Enhancement Scheme

  1. The scheme applies to both residential and commercial properties
  2. The premises applying for the grant must be located in the area designated on the attached map
  3. Laois County Council will be carrying out the painting works. The Colour will be chosen by reference to a Colour palette chosen by the Local Authority.  The applicant will be consulted on the Colour but the final decision will be made by the Local Authority.
  4. Grants are awarded entirely at the discretion of the Local Authority
  5. Application will not be considered where there are local taxes or charges due to the Council
  6. The applicant will receive a copy of the painting assessment carried out on the premises. He/She will subsequently be required to sign a consent form agreeing to the works to be carried out and the colour to be used.  On receipt of the consent form and a 25% contribution from the applicant the painting works will be carried out by Laois County Council.

Application forms can available here: Facade Enhancement Scheme Application Form.

Submit completed application form and supporting documentation to:

Linda Meredith

Business Support Unit

Laois County Council

County Hall


Co Laois

Tel 057 8664133


Early Payment Incentive Scheme

The Members of Laois County Council have allocated a fund in the 2018 Budget to encourage and support small businesses under the Early Payment Incentive Scheme 2019.

The scheme will apply to ratepayers occupying properties in Laois incurring Commercial Rates of €10,000 or less in 2019.

A 4% reduction will be given where:

1.)  The Commercial Rates (including arrears) relating to the relevant rated property, are paid in full no later than 31stJuly, 2019.


2.)  The Commercial Rates (including arrears) relating to the relevant rated property, are paid in full by agreed, regular, staged, payments commencing immediately and paid in full by the 31stDecember, 2019.

Methods of payment

  • Standing Order
  • Directly to the Cash Office, County Hall, Portlaoise, Co. Laois or to the Revenue Collector for your area.
  • Credit Card or Laser Card – Phone No. 057 86 74308
  • Electronic Fund Transfer

Please ensure to quote Rate Account Number on all payments.

Further details can be obtained by contacting Brenda Earl on 057 86 64061 or

Shop Front Grant Scheme 2021

Following the success of last year’s  scheme, Laois County Council is delighted to announce the launch of the Shop Front Grant Scheme for 2021.

Who/What Types of Buildings are Eligible for these Grants?

  • Owners or Leaseholders of Retail or Commercial Premises. Leaseholders must obtain permission of the owner if required by their lease contract (any community groups operating with the written consent of the owner may also be considered)
  • Independently-owned shops or commercial premises – not part of a franchise or chain
  • Ground floor premises fronting onto a public road
  • Premises zoned Town/Village Centre; in the case of Portlaoise premises zoned Town Centre Primary

Objectives of the Grant Scheme

To support the vitality and vibrancy of Laois Town and Village Centres

To enhance the appearance of retail and commercial premises in Laois Town and Village Centres

What costs will the grant cover?

    • Works that relate to the shopfront
    • Works that are sympathetic to the character and appearance of the building and street – having regard to planning law requirements and in particular Architectural Conservation Area and Protected Structure designations.
    • Where the works are being undertaken by the owner, grant assistance will be provided towards the cost of materials only
    • Works might include the repair of damaged/degraded parts of softwood shopfronts; general repair works; repainting of shopfronts or repainting of fascia advertisements; replacement of fascia advertisements or projecting advertisements with more sympathetic advertisements; removal of roller-shutter blinds and installation of security glass or more sympathetic internal shuttering.
    • A Shopfront and Streetscape Policy Document including photographic examples of good shopfront design is available on
    • The grant shall not exceed 50% of the overall cost and is subject to a maximum grant of €750 per unit.
    • The grant will be increased to a maximum of €1,000 where applications include accessibility works (e.g. accessibility ramps and railings).
    • Note: If the fund is oversubscribed, preference will be given to proposals that have the most potential to improve the appearance or the vitality and vibrancy of Laois Towns and Villages

Do I need planning permission?

Many of the works that might be proposed may not need planning permission; however you should consult the Council to clarify.  Applicants may make an application for the grant in advance of obtaining planning permission (if required) and where successful will receive an offer of funding in principle.  However, where permission is required, approved works cannot start until a final grant of planning permission is received.

When will I receive the grant?

The grant will be payable after completion and final inspection by a Council official and when all terms are complied with.  All works must be completed before 30th September 2021.

Are there other financial terms to comply with before I get paid?

Costs will also have to be verified (submission of receipts/incurred expense) prior to the payment of the grant.  The applicant must either have paid rates in full or be in compliance with a payment plan/agreement regarding rates.

Can I reapply if I have previously been approved for funding?

Businesses who have been approved for the scheme in the previous 3 year period cannot reapply.

How do I apply?

Fill out the Shop Front Improvement & Accessibility Grant Application 2021 & submit other required documents specified at the end of the application form (e.g. written builder’s/ tradesman’s estimate).

Email the completed application form and other required documents to

Alternatively post your application form and supporting documents to Business Support Unit, Laois County Council, Áras an Chontae, JFL Avenue, Portlaoise, Co. Laois.

Any queries in relation to the scheme should be directed to: Linda Meredith, Business Support Unit, (057) 8664133,

Development Contribution Scheme

The current Development Contribution Scheme for Laois County Council have a very competitive rate of €34m2 for commercial and industrial developments.

The scheme also provides the following incentives:

New projects or grant supported expansions by the IDA/EI shall be subject to the following levy structure:

  • @ €30 per sq.m
  • 2ndm @ €10 per sq.m
  • Above 1000sq.m @ €7.50 per sq.m
  • A 33% reduction shall apply to new business developments by local entrepreneurs where 5 or more new jobs are being created
  • A 33% reduction shall apply in the Retail Core of Portlaoise, Portarlington, Graiguecullen and Mountmellick as defined in the Laois County Development Plan 2011 – 2017 and Local Area Plans respectively and in the village and town centre zoned areas for each town and village within the County Development Plan 2011-2017.
Priming Grants - For Business Trading

A Priming Grant is a business start-up grant, available to micro enterprises within the first 18 months of start-up and may be available for sole traders, partnerships or limited companies that fulfil the following criteria:

  • Located and operating within the LEO’s geographic area
  • A business which on growth will fit the Enterprise Ireland portfolio
  • A business employing up to 10 employees
  • A manufacturing or internationally traded services business
  • A domestically traded service business with the potential to trade internationally
  • Need for money and having regard to deadweight and displacement

Eligible clients may be awarded a Priming Grant within the first eighteen months of setting up the business.

Expenditure may be considered under the following headings:

  • Capital items
  • Salary costs
  • Consultancy/Innovation/Marketing costs
  • General overhead costs

The maximum Priming Grant payable is 50% of proposed investment up to a maximum of €80,000, whichever is the lesser.

Business Expansion Grants - For Business Trading Less Than 18 Months

The Business Expansion grant is designed to assist the business in its growth phase after the initial 18 month start-up period and may be awarded to sole traders, partnerships or limited companies that fulfil the following criteria:

  • Located and operating within the LEO geographic area
  • A business, which, on growth, will have the capacity to progress to the Enterprise Ireland portfolio
  • A business employing up to 10 employees
  • A manufacturing or internationally traded service business
  • A domestically traded service business with the potential to trade internationally.

Expenditure may be considered under the following headings:

  • Capital items
  • Salary costs
  • Consultancy/Innovation/Marketing costs
  • General overhead costs

The maximum Business Expansion Grant payable shall be 50% of the investment, up to a maximum of €80,000, whichever is the lesser.

Feasiblity Study Grant

Feasibility Study Grants are designed to assist the promoter with researching market demand for a product or service and examining its sustainability. It includes assistance with innovation including specific consultancy requirements, hiring of expertise from third level colleges private specialists, design and prototype development.

The maximum Feasibility Study Grant payable in the BMW region is  60% of eligible  investment or €15,000 whichever is the lesser.

Expenditure may be considered under the following headings:

  • Market Research
  • Consultancy Costs
  • Technical Development/Prototype/Innovation
  • Salary/Own Labour Research
  • Miscellaneous Costs

To assist the small business community in meeting the challenges of the business world, we  provide a wide range of high-quality training supports which are tailored to meet specific business requirements. Whether it is starting a business or growing a business there is something suitable for everyone.

A list of our current Training Programme can be downloaded here.


The Mentor Programme is designed to match up the knowledge, skills, insights and entrepreneurial capability of experienced business practitioners with small business owner/ managers who need practical and strategic one to one advice and guidance. The mentor contributes independent, informed observation and advice to aid decision making.

All applications for mentor assistance are dealt with individually and are preceded by a business needs analysis to assess the key needs of the business and determine the most imperative mentoring objectives.

Who Qualifies?

The Mentor Programme is open to both new and existing businesses located in Co. Laois.

The Role of Mentor:

  • Listen, Advise and provide direction
  • Help the promoter identify problems and suggest areas for improvement
  • Discuss solutions and innovative ways of improving business activity
  • Help with the decision making process
  • Share experience and knowledge, provide structure and context for discussion
  • Offer assistance in compiling a business plan

Areas of involvement typically include:

  • Business Strategy
  • Financial Planning
  • Market Research, Marketing & Promotion
  • Production Planning
  • Distribution
  • Corporate Organisation
  • Website Planning & Design

For full details on all LEO business supports click here.

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