West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Rural entrepreneurs to benefit from £27m Rural Business Investment Scheme

Published: 25 September, 2014

West Tyrone Sinn Féin representatives Declan Mc Aleer MLA and Cllr Anne Marie Fitzgerald have called on entrepreneurs in rural areas to get ready for the new £27 million Rural Business Investment Scheme, which is expected to be open for applications in Spring 2015. According to Mr Mc Aleer 'Minister O Neill has confirmed that DARD is finalising the draft RDP programme with formal submission to the European Commission expected in October. During a recent meeting between the Minister and the EU Commissioner Dacian Cioloş she impressed the need to have the programme cleared and turned around as quickly as possible. '£27 million of the new RDP has been earmarked for a Rural Business Investment Scheme aimed at creating and developing non agricultural activities in rural areas. This is an excellent opportunity for people who have a business idea or established businesses who want to grow and develop. Cllr Fitzgerald added '89% of rural businesses are in the micro-enterprise category and face additional challenges compared to their urban counterparts. These include higher transport costs, poor infrastructure, smaller population centres, planning constraints and sporadic broadband coverage. 'It is really important to note that that this is a separate programme from the larger Farm Business Improvement Scheme which is part of the Growing for Growth strategy. The Rural Business Investment Scheme aims to create more SME's in rural areas and is open to everyone who has a business proposal. 'I strongly advise people who are considering applying to the new scheme to start working on their business cases now and get professional help from organisations such as InvestNI who will help them flesh out their ideas. In these bleak economic times, this new programme represents a great opportunity for job creation and regeneration in rural areas.