Earlier this week we published our latest 2-page WDC Insights publication. ‘Enterprise in the Western Region 2016’ analyses the latest data from the CSO’s Business Demography which measures active enterprises in 2016. This data assigns enterprises to the county where they are registered with Revenue, so if they have multiple locations (e.g. banks, chain stores) they are only counted as one enterprise in whichever county they are headquartered (often Dublin). Therefore the county data presented here measures businesses which are registered in the Western Region.
In 2016 there were 54,410 total enterprises registered in the Western Region.
To examine the size of enterprises, we can only consider ‘business economy’ enterprises which are a subset of total enterprises (excluding Education, Health, Arts & Entertainment and Other Services). There were 42,737 ‘business economy’ enterprises in the Western Region in 2016 and 92.7% were micro-enterprises. Roscommon (94.6%) and Leitrim (94.4%) have the highest shares of micro-enterprises in the state.
Between 2008 and 2016 there was a 4.3% decline in the number of ‘business economy’ enterprises in the Western Region, compared with 3.9% growth in the rest of the state (all other counties) (Fig. 1). Donegal, Mayo and Roscommon suffered the largest declines in enterprise numbers over the period.
The 2016 data confirms an ongoing recovery in enterprise numbers that began in 2014, with all counties experiencing an increase over that two-year period, Clare and Donegal most strongly. Although all western counties (and all but seven counties nationally) still had fewer enterprises in 2016 than they had in 2008.
Compared with the rest of the state, the Western Region has a higher share of enterprises in traditional sectors, as well as local and public services (Fig. 2). With 1 in 5 enterprises in the region involved in Construction, it is the region’s largest enterprise sector and plays a larger role in the region’s enterprise profile. Accommodation & Food Service is another area where the region has a significantly greater share of enterprises, an indication of the important role of tourism.
The knowledge intensive services sectors are of less significance to the region’s enterprise profile, with lower shares in Professional Services, Information & Communications and Financial Services.
The relative importance of sectors to the enterprise profile of individual western counties varies, although Construction and Wholesale & Retail are the two largest for all counties, with Professional Services third largest for all western counties except Donegal where Accommodation & Food Service is third.
As noted above, the period 2014-2016 showed growth in enterprise numbers. At a sectoral level, there was growth in all sectors in the region except for a small decline in Transportation & Storage. The largest percentage growth, albeit from a low base, was in Financial Services with an increase of 15% in the number of enterprises registered in the region, followed by Real Estate (11.5%) and Administrative Services (8%).
For these three sectors, the growth in the region was higher than in the rest of the state, with the number of Financial Services firms actually declining elsewhere in that time. The region also experienced stronger growth than the rest of the state in Industry, Education, Professional Services and Arts & Entertainment.
The CSO also produces data for a composite ‘ICT’ sector which combines elements of ICT hardware manufacturing with IT services, the number of ICT enterprises in the Western Region increased by 11.4% between 2014 and 2016 compared with 9.8% growth in the rest of the state.
The profile of the Western Region’s enterprise base contributes to a number of the issues and challenges faced by the region’s SMEs which the WDC highlighted in its recent submission to the Seanad’s public consultation on SMEs in Ireland. See the blog post here.
Download ‘Enterprise in the Western Region 2016’ here.