The Meath Women in Biz and Tech Network was delighted to accept an invitation from the Minister for Justice and local deputy Helen McEntee to visit Leinster House.
The network is a collaboration between the Local Enterprise Office, Meath and County Meath Chamber and members include entrepreneurs in a broad range of businesses as well as representatives of successful Meath based companies. The Network is sponsored by Meta, who have a presence in Meath with their Clonee Data Centre.
The invitation to the network was issued by the Minister for Justice after she attended a previous event with the network, in Slane Castle, in June.
The women had a guided tour of both Houses of the Oireachtas and, appropriately enough, the usher giving the tour proudly told them he was from Meath too!
After lunch they were joined by Minister McEntee who updated them on work she is undertaking including around hate crime, stalking and non-fatal strangulation.
She heard concerns from network members around private landlords leaving the rental market and the cost of insurance.
Later, when they were joined by the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar, Lorna Cooney, Senior Enterprise Officer with the Local Enterprise Office in Meath said that while the supports for business currently in place are very welcome, “what we really need now is the criteria to be broadened to allow more small businesses to qualify for financial supports.”
She explained that LEO Meath have a lot of service-based businesses who unfortunately do not meet the criteria for LEO funding.
“One of the real sticking points for some of our clients is ‘why don’t I qualify’” for financial supports,” she told him.
Currently there are limited financial supports available to service industry clients unless they are manufacturing or exporting. There needs to be more available to these businesses as they are also the life blood of the local economy.
She acknowledged that there is a small cohort of clients who will be able to avail of recently announced additional supports, but added, “many of them don’t (qualify) so we are really trying to feed this back to government in the hope that the guidelines will change.”
The Tánaiste thanked the local enterprise offices for the work they do around the country and said “I have been really, really impressed by the results and the work.”
Paula McCaul, Chief Executive of County Meath Chamber said, “we were delighted to accept the invitation from Minister McEntee who has always been a supporter of the network. It was a memorable day and made possible with her support as well as that of our sponsor Meta. Thank you to all the network members who attended and we look forward to seeing them at our next event in December.”
Aoife Flynn, Head of Community Development at Meta commented; “We are proud to support the Meath Women in Biz and Tech network. It’s such a great opportunity for women to connect with each other, share learnings, overcome challenges, and get inspired by their peers. Local businesses are a key driver for the local community and initiatives like this help to highlight needs and strengthen opportunities. Meta is committed to supporting small businesses and we are working with the Chamber to offer digital skills training in Meath.”