Applications sought For Rural Business Grant Scheme

Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Alderman Glenn Barr has welcomed the launch of a grant scheme for local rural micro-businesses.

Sunday, 18th July 2021, 8:40 am
Foxberry Fruit Farm Director, Philip Fox and Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Alderman Glenn Barr.
Foxberry Fruit Farm Director, Philip Fox and Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Alderman Glenn Barr.

Now open for applications, the Rural Business Development Grant Scheme offers capital grants of up to £4,999 to eligible rural businesses to help support their sustainability, development and recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Successful applicants can use the grant aid to support the purchase of new capital items including equipment, machinery and e-commerce websites, which cost at least £1,000 and no more than £20,000.

Helping support around 80 local projects at a total investment of nearly £250,000 since its launch in 2019, the third instalment of the scheme aims to reach out to and support those businesses most in need and those that have not benefited from the scheme yet.

Local Armagh business, Foxberry Fruit Farm received funding of close to £4,900 from the Rural Business Development Grant Scheme last year. Thanks to the funding, they were able to purchase a laptop, water tank, circulation fans and 2,000 metres of strawberry guttering; helping boost their productivity and support their growth.Pictured L-R: Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Alderman Glenn Barr, Head of ABC Council’s Economic Development department Nicola Wilson, Foxberry Fruit Farm Director, Philip Fox and Chair of ABC Council’s Economic Development and Regeneration Committee, Councillor Declan McAlinden.

Visiting Foxberry Fruit Farm, a former recipient of the scheme, Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Alderman Glenn Barr commented: “With many of our local businesses – particularly those in our rural communities – still dealing with the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, I am delighted to see council get another opportunity to deliver this small capital grants scheme across our local rural micro-businesses.

“Since its pilot back in 2019, the scheme has invested close to a quarter of a million in this key business sector locally; and this success couldn’t be any more evident than here at Foxberry Fruit Farm. Supporting the small business with their plans to increase and enhance their output, the grant aid has certainly helped drive their continual development and growth.

“With applications closing at the end of the month, I would encourage all eligible rural businesses who have not benefited from the scheme in the past two years – to check the scheme out and consider applying.”

Just one example of the scores of local rural micro-businesses to benefit from the scheme to date, Foxberry Fruit Farm received a grant of close to £4,900 last year and thanks to the funding, they were able to purchase a laptop, water tank, circulation fans and 2,000 metres of strawberry guttering.

With this financial support, the County Armagh strawberry business was able to boost their productivity, scale up and grow.

“The support from ABC Council’s Rural Business Development Grant Scheme has been invaluable to our business!” commented Philip Fox from Foxberry Fruit Farm.

“It has enabled us to realise our long-standing ambition to significantly improve the quality and yield of our product through greater efficiencies in our processes. Tangibly we have increased our growing time by 12 weeks in the year, not only helping us add another 30% to our yield potential but also helping us increase our recruitment levels and contribute further to our local community.

“With the support and guidance from council, the application process is simple and straightforward; and I would encourage eligible local businesses to apply at the first opportunity to get the support to grow your business.”

Funded through the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs’ (DAERA) Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation Programme, the Rural Business Development Grant Scheme is open to existing rural micro-businesses that employ less than 10 people.

The capital grants are capped at £4,999 at a match-funding rate of up to 50% from DAERA.

The minimum grant award is £500. Applications will close at 12 noon on Friday 30 July 2021.

For further information on eligibility criteria and how to apply visit www.armaghbanbridgecraigavon.gov.uk/business/rural-business-development-grant-scheme/.