Rural businesses urged not to miss out on funding opportunity

Up to �90,000 support is available to rural businesses across the Derry & Strabane region.
Up to �90,000 support is available to rural businesses across the Derry & Strabane region.

Rural businesses locally can now avail of 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 on Monday January 29, 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.

The NI Rural Development Programme 2014-20 is part-funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and the EU. The fund is administered by Council on behalf of the Derry and Strabane Rural Partnership.

The Derry City and Strabane District Council area has been allocated £7.54m 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 £1.2m 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, so businesses which are investment ready are urged to apply. Funding of up to £90,000 per business may be available.

Mayor 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. This scheme offers the opportunity for small rural companies to avail of the support they need to take their business to the next level.”

Chair of Derry & Strabane Rural Partnership, William Lamrock, said: “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.”

Businesses in rural areas with low numbers of applicants to date, such as the Sperrin district, 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 rural.development@derrystrabane.com or phone Council on 02871 253253 Ext 6917.