County councillors have asked the council executive to allocate a member of staff in each electoral area to assist small businesses.
At the March meeting of Donegal County Council, Sinn Féin Cllr. Marie Therese Gallagher tabled a motion calling for the allocation, saying small businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to stay open.
Speaking later, Cllr. Gallagher said Donegal’s small businesses don’t have time to seek out information on available supports. “They haven’t got the time to engage because they’re so busy trying to keep the doors open,” she said. The motion received broad support, with councillors detailing the challenges small businesses face, but also crediting council for working with ratepayers on payment plans.
“It is absolutely right and proper this council should be seeking ways and means of assisting small businesses,” Fine Gael Cllr. Bernard McGuinness said.
Calling it, “an excellent motion”, Labour Cllr. Martin Farren said, “The most important thing is that we have to keep our small businesses open.”
Fianna Fáil Cllr. Ciaran Brogan said he believed government was “out of touch” with small business. “Whether they’re creating two jobs, eight jobs, 12 jobs or 20 jobs, if there is one thing the state should have in place they should have someone liaising on the ground with the small businesses,” he said.
Independent Cllr. Michael McBride said, “I know it’s difficult out there but we have to commend people in Donegal who are putting their hands in their own pockets and running their own business.”
The government has already announced plans to replace county development boards with local enterprise offices. Garry Martin, council finance director, told councillors that the local office, an element of the council, is expected to begin this month, offering small businesses opportunities to gain access to grant aid and other supports.