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Opportunities for rural businesses and communities now open!

11 April 2017

Derry and Strabane Rural Partnership is advising rural businesses and communities within the council area to take note of new opportunities now available in the latest release of LEADER funding.

The overall Rural Development Programme for Northern Ireland 2014-2020 has allocated a total of £7.54 million to the Derry City and Strabane District Council area over a four year period which will be made available through four schemes.

The Rural Business Investment Scheme was the first of these schemes to open in 2016, awarding over £320,000 to nine local companies and creating 15.5 new jobs in the area. Now open for its third call, the scheme applies to new or existing rural based micro/small business and social economy enterprises involved in non-agricultural/non agri-food related activities. Funding is primarily for capital grants from £5,000 up to £90,000 with some marketing support up to £10,000 also available. 

The second scheme of the Rural Development Programme, the Rural Basic Services Scheme is also now open for its first call, offering capital funding to help support innovation, such as, the creation of community hubs to deliver multiple services where there is a clear need for absent or difficult to access services. This call is to those seeking Small Grants (£10,000 to £50,000) and Technical Support (£500 to £5,000 for feasibility studies/professional fees) for large grants. A further call for large grants (up to £250,000) will open in 2018. Eligible applicants for the scheme include those in the community/voluntary sector, strategic public bodies, local council or partnerships.

The Mayor of the Derry City and Strabane District, Alderman Hilary McClintock, gave both schemes her support and said that they are often a life blood for rural communities and an essential way of growing our local economy, she added “These schemes are designed to support rural businesses and communities, helping them to make a real difference in rural areas and providing crucial support in a challenging economic climate”. 

Councillor Patricia Logue, Chair of Derry Strabane Rural Partnership said, “Both opportunities are significant for rural areas. The Rural Business Investment Scheme has already delivered crucial funding to help grow local rural businesses, creating new jobs and export potential to enable them to compete more effectively on a global scale. We are now looking forward to this additional opportunity to further grow the local economy. 

“We are also delighted to be opening the first call of the Rural Basic Services Scheme which aims to support innovation through community hubs that deliver absent or difficult to access services. This is a targeted call for projects that will deliver services that improve health and wellbeing and that are part of a cluster with at least three other partners/groups”.

“I would urge anyone interested in either of these funding schemes to register for one of the mandatory pre-application workshops for the relevant scheme – as you must attend a workshop and complete an Expression of Interest to be eligible to apply for funding”.

The Rural Business Investment Scheme will include three pre-application workshops to be held on Monday 24th April, Wednesday 26th April and Thursday 27th April taking place in Castlederg, Strabane and Derry. Any individuals attending the workshop must be either the business owner or a Director.

The Rural Basic Services Scheme will include seven pre-application workshops taking place across the Council area between Thursday 27th April and Thursday 4th May 2017. Any person attending the workshop on behalf of a group/organisation must be an authorised signatory.

For further details of each scheme and the workshops visit www.derrystrabane.com/rural or to book a workshop email [email protected] or phone Derry City and Strabane District Council on 02871 253253 ext 6917.