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Rural businesses urged not to miss out on funding opportunity

23 January 2018

Rural businesses can avail of new opportunities to boost their business with support from the Rural Business Investment Scheme’s LEADER fund, which has just opened its fourth call.

A series of five pre-application workshops will take place beginning Monday January 29th, and owners and directors of small rural businesses are encouraged to attend to find out the potential benefits. Attendance at a workshop is mandatory for any businesses intending to apply for funding. 

The NI Rural Development Programme 2014-20 is part-funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and the EU. The fund is administered by Council on behalf of the Derry and Strabane Rural Partnership, one of ten Local Action Groups working across NI.

The Derry City and Strabane District Council area has been allocated a total of £7.54 million up to 2020 to improve economic prosperity in rural areas. The Rural Business Investment Scheme is open to new or existing micro or small businesses and social economy enterprises involved in the non-agricultural or non agri-food sectors based in rural areas.

The programme aims to support rural enterprises in areas such as job creation and enhancing export potential, as well as assisting with marketing. To date Derry and Strabane Rural Partnership has awarded over £1.2 million through the scheme to 23 businesses which is creating 69 new jobs in rural areas. 

This may be the final opportunity to avail of funding under this scheme so businesses which are investment ready are being urged to apply. Funding of up to £90,000 per business may be available. 

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Maolíosa McHugh, said supporting rural business was a key priority for Council. “Our Council has a vast rural area and we are very conscious of the specific needs of people living and working in rural communities. Enhancing connectivity and supporting rural enterprise and investment are essential to the success of the local economy and are key priorities of the Strategic Growth Plan for the City and District.

“This scheme offers the opportunity for small rural companies to avail of the support they need to take their business to the next level. I would really urge business owners to go along to the workshops to find out how they could benefit.”

Chair of Derry & Strabane Rural Partnership, William Lamrock, said: “This is the fourth call for this round of funding and we are delighted that the scheme is already having a positive impact on rural business with over 69 new jobs being supported to date through the scheme. We want to equip rural companies with the additional skills and infrastructure they need to successfully build their business and perform more effectively in the local and global markets. This will significantly benefit the local economy and create the right environment for further growth and business development within our rural communities”

Businesses in rural areas with low numbers of applicants to date, such as the Sperrin district electoral area, are particularly encouraged to apply.

For further details of the 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.