LEOS IN DEMAND Elaine Moyles, Acting Head of Enterprise, MCC.
Tourist town was the ninth-hardest-hit town in Ireland, while county also in top ten
While 2020 Covid-19 measures hurt businesses all over the county, Westport has emerged as the worst-affected Mayo town.
Figures from the ‘Covid-19 Regional Economic Analysis’ report show that 2,811 Mayo businesses operating from a commercial unit – 49.7 percent – were worst exposed to Covid-19 restrictions, with Westport being the hardest-hit town.
The west Mayo tourist destination had a total of 276 units operating in ‘sectors likely worst affected’, which amounted to 58.1 percent of its commercial units. It was followed by Claremorris (53.4 percent), Castlebar (50.4 percent), Ballina (48.9 percent), Ballinrobe (48.3 percent) and Ballyhaunis (46.4 percent).
Westport was the ninth-worst-affected town in the country, trailing Bundoran in Co Donegal, which was the worst affected at 75.1 percent.
Mayo was the ninth worst-affected county. The worst-affected county was Kerry, which had a Covid-19 exposure ratio of 53.8 percent.
LEO in demand
Mayo County Council’s Acting Head of Enterprise Elaine Moyles revealed that the northern and western regions had the highest exposure to Covid-19, with 49.7 percent of businesses operating in sectors likely to be most affected by the pandemic.
The report, which was commissioned by the country’s three Regional Assemblies, showed a total of 16,515 units in the aforementioned regions were operating in the worst-affected sectors.
Ms Moyles said that this figure would likely be much higher were businesses without a fixed premises, such as adventure and tourism businesses, taken into account.
Speaking at an online meeting of the council’s SPC for Economic Development, Enterprise Support, Planning and Marine, she said that 2020 saw an ‘exponential’ demand for the services of Local Enterprise Office (LEO) due to the pandemic.
Training and mentoring support was provided to 1,859 clients via 153 online programmes, an increase of the 937 participants trained via 57 programmes in 2019.
Similarly, 597 individual mentoring sessions were held in 2020 compared to 379 in 2019.
The move to online trading prompted by the pandemic also saw the LEO grant 511 Trading Online Vouchers worth €1,172,401, an increase on the 40 vouchers worth €56,261 paid out in 2019.
The LEO also processed 358 applications for its new Business Continuity Voucher Scheme from businesses with up to 50 employees, of which 288 were approved to a value of €424,045.
The work of the LEO was praised by Hugh Rouse from Ballina Chamber of Commerce and by county councillors, with Cllr Al McDonnell describing it as ‘extraordinary’.