Minister of State for Employment and Small Business Pat Breen T.D. launched the FBD Clare Business Excellence Awards at a Breakfast Briefing sponsored by Bank of Ireland on Friday the 17th of June in the Temple Gate Hotel, Ennis.
The large attendance of business people from around the county, including past finalists, as well as this year’s sponsors heard from a range of speakers on the importance of collaboration among enterprises as well as the recognition that Awards can bring. President of Ennis Chamber Jean McCabe thanked the main sponsor FBD as well as the category sponsors AIB, Dublin Coach, Clare Local Enterprise Office, Virgin Media, Essilor, Microsemi, Energia, Shannon Airport and Ulster Bank as well as launch sponsors Bank of Ireland. The President went on to announce details of the new prize package for the Overall Winner worth over €10,000 consisting of a significant Web Design & Development Package sponsored by Acton Web and a CreateSend email-marketing platform as well as a business suite of services from Cahill Taxation, Elaine Ryan HR and Cahir & Co Solicitors. Ms McCabe went on the say, “As President this year in the Ennis Chamber, I guess I am one of the more lucky presidents of recent years as an air of positively lingers. Not every sector may have felt the upturn as yet but I would be quietly confident that it will filter its way down. With growth comes more jobs, investment into our businesses and our communities. It’s imperative that the opportunity to invest back into our business is highlighted and that any increase to our cost base would hamper that opportunity.” Colin Ryan, Branch Manager at Bank of Ireland highlighted the need to support business through the Awards and paid tribute to all of the fellow sponsors for their continued commitment to ensuring businesses in Clare could avail of the opportunity. The audience also heard from main sponsors FBD Ennis Branch Manager Ide O’Keeffe who said that the insurance company were delighted to continue to partner with Ennis Chamber for these important Awards. Ms. O’Keeffe encouraged all businesses from across the county and across the various sectors to enter the Awards to gain the recognition they deserve.
The attendees then heard from Ennis Chamber members reflecting the sectors of professional services, retail, tourism/hospitality, and industry. David Fitzsimons from Retail Excellence Ireland, which is based in Ennis spoke of the importance of credit for small business in order to foster growth. He also highlighted the work of Clare County Council and Ennis Chamber at the recent Retail Excellence Retreat in their efforts to attract new business to Ennis which should see the opening of three additional businesses in the town. Barry Pactor, Group Managing Director of TTM Healthcare, recounted how the company grew from a “Start Your Own Business” course and funding from the then County Enterprise Board to a company with an expected turnover of €70 million, employing €1,500 healthcare professionals. Mr. Pactor went on to said that TTM Healthcare would welcome the opportunity to share their experience by collaborating with other businesses in the region in looking at new opportunities. Another positive business expansion story came from David Collins, Chief Operations Officer of the Great National Hotels Group based in Ennis who, as well as manage a suite of hotels themselves, offer marketing services to other hotels to assist them in growing their businesses. As a business which started with very little finance, Mr. Collins offered advice to entrepreneurs in starting a business to have belief in themselves and their product in reaching their goals.
Guest Speaker Pat Breen, T.D. Minister for Employment and Small Business paid tribute to the previous entrants, finalists and winners over the past 6 years of the Awards. To address the issue of access to credit for small businesses which was referred to by previous speakers, the Minister took the opportunity to highlight the work of the Credit Review Office and also to make an announcement in relation to Microfinance Ireland. As and from the 1st of July 2016 the Microfinance lending rate for businesses will be reduced from its current rate of 8.8% to 7.8%, with an additional 1% reduction for client businesses of a Local Enterprise Office including Clare. The Minister also stated his commitment to the Advisory Group for Small Business for which he is the Chair. Mr Breen referred to the fact that the Group has had a number of proposal accepted and included in the Action Plan for Jobs. This Plan aims to increase employment in the Mid-West by 10-15% by 2020 and Ennis will be targeted to develop its strengths as a cultural hub, visitor destination and general business environment. Pat Breen TD then announced that he is seeking to appoint a business person from County Clare to the Small Business Advisory Group. The Minister also wished to promote the government’s commitment to nurture and support entrepreneurial culture referring the first National Statement on Entrepreneurship in 2014. Mr Breen concluded by praising the work of the Local Enterprise Offices, particularly the Trading Online Voucher for businesses wishing to further their business from a digital perspective.
The Breakfast Briefing Launch was brought to a close by Ennis Chamber CEO Rita Mc Inerney who encouraged all businesses in County Clare to consider entering at least one of the 9 categories. Ms McInerney said she believed it was important that businesses use the Awards programme as a way to measure their business’s progress and standards. She went on the say that the feedback report, which every entrant will receive from the independent judges Customer Perceptions, is an invaluable resource that will assist them in enhancing their product or service offering as well as imputing into future plans.
Full details of the FBD Clare Business Excellence Awards are available on the Ennis Chamber website page https://www.ennischamber.ie/services/business-awards/