On Tuesday the 20th of November the Local Enterprise Office Laois, the support agency for micro-enterprises in Co. Laois, were announced as category runners up in the finals of the European Commission’s European Enterprise Promotion Awards which were held in Graz, Austria.

The European Enterprise Promotion Awards recognise outstanding projects from across Europe which work to support entrepreneurs and small businesses in six different categories.  Each country in the European Union, as well as Turkey, Iceland and Serbia, can nominate a maximum of two projects to the European Enterprise Promotion Awards final.  One of the projects nominated by Ireland this year is the Laois Start Your Own Business programme delivered by LEO Laois which was successful in the “Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship” category. This is the first time ever that a Local Enterprise Office has been chosen to represent Ireland at the finals of this prestigious European final which adds to the scale of Laois’s success.

Local Enterprise Office Laois have taken an innovative approach to engaging with marginalised groups over the past two years by adapting mainstream Start Your Own Business programmes to meet their identified needs. Amongst the initiatives undertaken in that time were Start Your Own Business programme aimed at people aged 55 and above, the first Start Your Own Business programmes delivered in both the Midlands Prison and Portlaoise Prison as well as the first Start Your Own Business programme in Ireland delivered in an asylum seeker direct provision centre.

The finals of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards are organised on an annual basis by the European Commission as the centrepiece of European SME Week. The finals are traditionally held in the country which holds the Presidency of the European Council at that time, in this case Austria. Local Enterprise Office Laois were represented at last night’s final by Evelyn Reddin, Head of Enterprise and Séamus Doran, Business Advisor.

Speaking after the award winners were announced, Evelyn Reddin said “We were deeply honoured to be the first Local Enterprise Office ever selected to represent Ireland at the European Enterprise Promotion Awards. Then to be selected by the European Commission tonight as the runners up in our category is a huge achievement and one we will be very proud of. The work we undertook was very experimental and innovative and it is an honour to see it awarded at a European level. Our success at the European Enterprise Promotion Awards was a recognition not only of ourselves in Local Enterprise Office Laois but also for our colleagues in each of the Local Enterprise Offices throughout Ireland. To have a Local Enterprise Office recognised by the European Commission in this manner is a real endorsement of the quality of the work undertaken by all of our Local Enterprise Offices”.

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