Startling figures have emerged this week which show companies in Donegal are still not making preparations to deal with Brexit.
Although the nature of the UK's departure from the EU still remains to be determined, Brexit continues to represent a significant challenge for businesses.
Only 35 applications have been received from companies in Donegal wanting to access the Brexit funding support from InterTradeIreland while the extra €25,000 funding allocated to the Donegal's Local Enterprise Office (LEO) for companies to engage in preparation and training has not been spent.
Head of enterprise at the LEO office in Letterkenny, Michael Tunney, has revealed he is worried that some companies have not yet faced the Brexit situation head on.
Mr Tunney, who has overall responsibility for managing the LEO's activities and resources and is involved in a number of strategic, regional and cross-border programmes and initiatives, has urged companies to contact them as soon as possible.
"We have a free customs workshop in the Radisson Blu Hotel in Letterkenny on Wednesday, September 25, to deal with Brexit issues and it's already oversubscribed. We have already organised another shortly after to cater for those who could not be catered for this time."
He said there was a Brexit scorecard in operation at the moment where companies came in through the Enterprise Ireland website then on to LEO "but at the moment there's only about 30 companies in Donegal who have been involved".
"This is used to stimulate companies to think about the challenges but to me, the biggest thing in the short term is tariffs and customs they have to think about.
He admitted they've had a few direct Brexit queries since the start of the year.
"Either firms are of the opinion that when it happens we will know what the issues will be and there will be a transition period and therefore in that transition period we will be able to address it because we've always dealt with issues on the border and it's not that big a deal, it was there before and it didn't stop business being done. There's also a little bit of 'wait and see'.
"Companies are not complacent, they are concerned but wonder where to start. Many are also busy with their day to day stuff as opposed to thinking long term," he said.
He added he would like to see more companies address Brexit but heartened by the level of interest to their customs events.
"I would appeal to companies to start thinking 'what if'. We know what is possible to work out the worst-case scenario and plan for it.
“There are supports from InterTradeIreland and Enterprise Ireland. We did get additional budget for Brexit supports but we haven't been able to spend it to date because people haven't been contacting us to address specific issues for them.
“We got an extra €25,000 on top of what we already got previously for Brexit but we've spent nothing," he said.
It's a similar picture from InterTradeIreland. That organisation has been helping small businesses in Ireland and Northern Ireland explore new cross-border markets, develop new products, processes and services and become investor-ready over the last 20 years.
Its recently published research found that just 6% of traders were prepared for cash-flow and liquidity issues in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Similarly, only 6% have examined the possible legal implications on business contracts if the UK leaves the EU on October 31 without a deal.
A spokesperson, Eimear Fitzpatrick, confirmed this week that they had in the region of 35 applications from companies in Donegal wanting to access their Brexit funding support.
"There are currently no InterTradeIreland specific events for Donegal, however, we do often partner with other organisations and present at their events – so there may well be a presence by InterTradeIreland at forthcoming business advisory workshops in the north-west,” she said.
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