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Source: Northern Ireland – City of Derry

27 November 2020

A new scheme to support and promote new business Start Ups has been launched by Derry City and Strabane District Council, as part of its wider campaign to drive the Covid Recovery across the City and District.

Under the new Covid Recovery Start Up Grant Programme, grants of £500 will be made available to new businesses to help them through the most challenging phase of their development, during what are unprecedented times for the local economy. The cash grants will be delivered by Council as part of the Go For It Programme, in partnership with Strabane Enterprise Agency and Enterprise North West.

Council’s Business Team have been working closely with the local business community throughout the ongoing Covid crisis through a dedicated Covid Business Recovery and Referral service to assist and support companies as they have had to adapt their services and premises to meet the needs of both staff and customers.

Up to now there have been a number of funding packages announced to support established businesses. However Start Ups have not received the same level of government aid and this has emerged as a major area for concern.

Welcoming this latest intervention on behalf of the business community, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Brian Tierney, said: “I am sure this scheme will be warmly welcomed by many local people who have had to stall plans to open a new business because of the additional risk at this time. Even established businesses are struggling to adapt to a rapidly changing new work environment, so for fledgling enterprises it must be particularly daunting.

“Council’s business team have seen unprecedented demand for assistance in recent months, and have responded with a number of new interventions to meet the needs of the business community. This will offer another support option which will hopefully enable new enterprises to get off the ground and see their business ambitions come to fruition.”

The Covid Recovery Start Up Grant Programme aims to foster innovative ideas that have the potential to boost economic development and cultivate a spirit of entrepreneurship. The £500 grants will assist with the marketing of products, capital costs, rent, set-up costs, or cost of renovating premises.

Head of Business with Council, Kevin O’Connor, said it was essential for the local economy that Start Ups were prioritised at this time. “New businesses are vital to any thriving economy, offering innovative and diverse employment opportunities and giving consumers greater choice.

“Through our ongoing work with the local business community it’s emerged that there is an urgent need for us to assist emerging new talent as they face new and unexpected challenges due to the current crisis. This fund will go some way to meeting that need and I would encourage anyone with a new venture to sign up for the Go For It programme and avail of the support that’s there.”

Sharon Walker joined the Go For It Programme this year after unexpectedly being made redundant. The pilot scheme for this support grant enabled her to transform a hobby into a business opportunity, Budget Balloons, now operating in Strabane, and fast-tracked her dream to run her own full time business.

“The Go For It programme was a massive part of me moving from creating balloons as a hobby to starting it up as a business after being made redundant in October,” she explained.

“The grant has allowed me to buy a special machine that allows me to offer gifts inside a balloon and take my range of products and services to the next level. No one in my local area offers these kind of balloons that I have been able to find, so I’m really hopeful that I’ve found a niche that will appeal to anyone looking for something unique when celebrating special occasions.”

Businesses can access the scheme by completing the Go for It Programme and going through a formal eligibility process conducted by Enterprise NW and Strabane Enterprise Agency. The grants will be allocated on a first come first serve basis to eligible participants who plan to start a new business within six months, and will close on 24th March 2021.   

MIL OSI United Kingdom