O’Neill outlines benefits of £27 million Rural Business Investment Scheme

Deputy Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Catherine Seeley (left), pictured with Rural Development Minister Michelle O'Neill (right) during a public meeting in Aghagallan, Lurgan, to highlight the benefits of the forthcoming Rural Investment Scheme, which is due to open early 2016.
Deputy Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Catherine Seeley (left), pictured with Rural Development Minister Michelle O'Neill (right) during a public meeting in Aghagallan, Lurgan, to highlight the benefits of the forthcoming Rural Investment Scheme, which is due to open early 2016.

Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill has said the Rural Business Investment Scheme will present opportunities for rural businesses and communities.

Speaking at a Rural Business Investment Seminar in Aghagallon, Lurgan on Monday evening (9 November 2015) Minister O’Neill encouraged businesses to avail of the opportunities that will exist and to prepare in advance of the scheme opening early 2016.

“The LEADER element of the Rural Development Programme, administered on behalf of my department by 10 Local Action Groups (LAGS), is worth approximately £70 million and will make a significant contribution to the economic growth of our rural areas and help sustain vibrant rural communities.”

Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill

The seminar was hosted by Deputy Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Catherine Seeley, with Minister O’Neill and DARD officials addressing questions from those in attendance at the event.

Minister O’Neill said: “The LEADER element of the Rural Development Programme, administered on behalf of my department by 10 Local Action Groups (LAGS), is worth approximately £70 million and will make a significant contribution to the economic growth of our rural areas and help sustain vibrant rural communities.

“The Rural Business Investment Scheme, an important element of LEADER, is worth up to £27 million and will provide much needed investment support for the creation and development of micro and small enterprises, including diversified farm businesses and private tourism businesses, in rural areas.

“In addition, funding to support Rural Basic Services, Village Renewal, Rural Broadband and LEADER Co-Operation will help develop our rural economies to enable them to thrive and prosper.”

Outlining the type of activity the Rural Business Investment Scheme will support, Minister O’Neill said: “Support is provided for capital investments in creation and development of micro and small enterprises in rural areas. This may be either an activity which is new for an existing enterprise, or an expansion of an existing activity leading to job creation or a new business start up.

“I encourage rural businesses to prepare in advance of the opening of the Scheme as a sound business plan and being able to demonstrate job creation are two essential components of the application process.”

Deputy Mayor Seeley added: “Everyone was absolutely delighted to welcome the Minister to the excellent facilities in Aghagallon. Minister O’Neill is to be commended for her willingness to meet and discuss important Rural Development matters with rural communities.

“This event was very much worthwhile, and I’m sure appreciated by the local community.”