Connect 2 Laois for Food, a collaborative project between Laois County Council, the Local Enterprise Office and Laois Partnership, is a programme of market led innovation, best practice transfer and product and service development.
It is aimed at supporting and nurturing start-up and established businesses in the County and will allow them to have access to a programme of supports to improve their businesses. James Burke & Associates, Ireland’s leading Food Consultants and Retail Advisors, have been recruited to deliver the programme which is funded under the Rural Economic Development Zone (REDZ) Initiative through the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, together with Laois County Council. 30 food businesses from County Laois will avail of specialist training and mentoring to help develop their businesses.
An information session for the Connect 2 Laois for Food programme was held on Wednesday 9th August in the Midlands Park Hotel in Portlaoise. The event was very well attended by both food producers and food service providers from all over the County. One of the speakers at the event was Darragh Flynn, Director of the Happy Pear. He enthralled those who attended the session with tales of how the Flynn brothers have developed their business from a fruit and vegetable shop in Greystones to a large multi facet business employing 170 people.
He stated “it is very important that any business continuously reviews its direction on a regular basis. Our growth within The Happy Pear has been relatively fast and we have always been big believers in participating in up-skilling programmes, and surrounding ourselves with mentors who have expertise greater than ours. I would encourage any Laois food stakeholder to seize the opportunity to participate in the Connect 2 Food Programme”
Programme mentor and trainer James Burke said ‘The support that Laois County Council are providing through this project to food producers and foodservice operators is unprecedented by national standards. The programme structure will provide food stakeholders with an opportunity to revisit the direction their business is moving in, and together with the support of an external team of experts, to formulate new strategies for their business.
Liz Kennedy, Laois County Council, Project Co-ordinator emphasised that ‘in addition to the networking and brand awareness opportunities that participation in the Connect 2 Laois for Food programme will afford participants, it will also provide the opportunity to create synergies between the food sector and support agencies in the County . Training and mentoring commence in September 2017. In addition to the mentoring and training, a Showcase of food in County Laois will also take place during the first quarter of 2018.
Places on the programme are limited. Anyone interested in participating should contact:
Liz Kennedy; Connect 2 Laois for Food, REDZ Project Co-ordinator, Laois County Council, Business Support Unit
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Phone 086 174 6370/ Denise Rainey , Business Support Unit, 057 8664103