Interest in setting up new businesses in Derry is booming, says the man tasked with assisting start-ups in the city.
Alan Healy, Client Manager of the Go For It programme - which is funded by Invest Northern Ireland - has been busy in recent weeks dealing with a flood of inquiries from budding entrepreneurs.
“In June of last year we had 21 enquiries about start-ups but this year we’ve had 50 for the month of June - an increase of 138%. Generally what we are finding is that the number of actual start ups is also on the increase.”
Mr Healy says the hike is an indication of the ambition of Derry’s unemployed workforce to “go it alone” in business world as the jobs squeeze in both the private and public sectors continues to tighten. “I wouldn’t go so far as to say the economy is turning around but people certainly seem to be more interested in starting their own businesses rather than applying for jobs. Some are turning their hobbies into businesses such as cake makers, dress makers and even potters. Some are using the skills they have gained through employment or education to go out on their own in business while others are identifying opportunities presented by the City of Culture designation and some are looking at franchises.
He adds: “A lot of the people we’re seeing are people who were looking for jobs for a long time during the recession and finally decided to do it for themselves.”
Another factor in the surge, according to Mr Healy, is that “Derry seems to have much more going for it than elsewhere at the minute” due to the City of Culture tag and the Digital Derry initiative.
Mr Healy defines his role as Go For It Client Manager as one which “facilitates local entrepreneurs to get their businesses up and running and provides support to existing companies”. A key part of the role is to help start-ups and existing firms secure any available grant aid. The INI Go For It Programme - which is delivered by North West Marketing, at the North West Business Complex, Skeoge - provides access to a wide range of advice and support including consultation; key advice on marketing, financial planning, legal issues and more; help with creating comprehensive business plan and cashflow projections; and offers subsidised web packages. For more information log on to www.North-WestMarketing.com or www.goforitni.com