The Mayor, Alderman Paul Porter, Environment Minister Edwin Poots and Desmond Magill, Chairman, Lisburn Enterprise Organisation, at LEO's 20th birthday celebrations.
Environment Minister Edwin Poots samples Gourmet Fruit's caramel-coated apples at Lisburn Enterprise Organisation's 20th birthday celebrations. Gourmet Fruit, run by David Hallowell (left) is one of 1,350 businesses which the enterprise agency has helped to start up. Also pictured is Aisling Owens, the agency's Chief Executive.
ONE of Northern Ireland's largest enterprise agencies, Lisburn Enterprise Organisation (LEO), is preparing to help a new generation of entrepreneurs make a success of their new businesses as it celebrates its 20th anniversary.
Since its inception, the agency has assisted in creating some 3,600 new jobs in both start-up and existing businesses.
And LEO Chief Executive, Aisling Owens, said the agency could play a major role in the current uncertain economic climate.
"Lisburn Enterprise Organisation was started up to help tackle unemployment during a previous recession," she said.
"Now, once again, we are seeing an increasing number of 'necessity entrepreneurs' approach us, because they've lost their job and need to turn to self-employment. "With the right specialist support, 'necessity entrepreneurs' can build successful businesses, even in a recession.
"We're proud of the contribution we've made to the local economy over the
last 20 years, and we know our work is particularly important during this
challenging time for businesses."
In addition to providing tailored advice and training, the agency lets out 140 business units in which nearly 450 people are currently employed.
LEO has also levered in nearly £3.2 million of financial aid for clients in the form of grants, loans and equity investment.
Congratulating the enterprise agency on its achievements, Environment Minister Edwin Poots said he was confident LEO "will continue to grow and prosper and in so doing, Lisburn city will continue to benefit from its endeavours."
The Minister was able to sample the sweet taste of success at the celebrations when he tried a new range of luxury decorated apples produced by Gourmet Fruit.
The local company uses a top-secret recipe for a special caramel coating which they have developed. Mr. Poots admitted a particular liking for the mint chocolate-flavoured topping.
The expanding company, which has already sold 5,000 of the apples, is one of 1,350 firms which LEO has helped to start up. Commenting on the turnout at the event, LEO Chairman Desmond Magill said: "We were honoured and delighted that so many local politicians came along to help us celebrate.
"We really appreciate the support which we receive from elected representatives and from Lisburn City Council."
* Next week we look at some of LEO's success stories.