ALMOST 4,000 jobs were created last year by startups and small businesses backed by their Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs).
This brings the total number of jobs created by LEO-supported companies to 15,000 since the LEOs were established in 2014.
Yesterday's announcement of some 3,700 jobs created in 2017 was welcomed by the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys and the Trade Minister Pat Breen.
"In a challenging environment, LEO clients have contributed substantially to economic development up and down the country, especially outside of the main urban centres," said Mr Breen.
Overall, there are a total of 31 LEOs nationwide.
The LEOs are run in partnership by Enterprise Ireland and local authorities, and aim to provide support to startups and small businesses.
In addition to the jobs created by LEO-backed companies, more than 80 small businesses progressed from the LEOs into the Enterprise Ireland portfolio last year.
"As these results for 2017 clearly demonstrate, the LEOs are playing a pivotal role in local job creation nationwide," said Anna-Marie Delaney, Offaly Council CEO and chairwoman of the CCMA Committee on Economic Development & Enterprise.
Meanwhile, the number of job vacancies grew by 3pc year-on-year in the three months to 31 December, with the hotel and catering sector generating the majority of the vacancies, according to the latest IrishJobs.ie employment index.
The technology sector generated 7pc of all jobs vacancies in the final three months of last year, while the construction sector generated 6pc as the sector was boosted by an increasing demand for commercial and residential property,
"Economically, Ireland is in a strong position, and the IrishJobs.ie Q4 2017 Jobs Index reflects this robustness," said IrishJobs.ie general manager Orla Moran.
However the jobs portal warned Ireland is not immune to threats, with a great deal still unknown about the UK's departure from the EU.
The slow pace of Brexit negotiations means there is a danger that Irish businesses will simply "forget" the risk of a "bad deal" or "no deal" scenario, Ms Moran said.
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