£90k rural grants initiative rolling out across Mid and East Antrim

Rural businesses across the Mid and East Antrim area can now apply for grants totalling £90,000.

Jane Magee from Glenview Farm Equine Learning Centre; a new business using horses to work with young people with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. Jane made an application to the Rural Development Programme and was granted match funding for the construction of an arena where sessions are held.

The funding is being rolled out through the Rural Development Programme’s Business Investment Scheme.

It can be used for a wide range of activities including constructing or improving property, purchasing new machinery and equipment, marketing and website development.

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Information workshops being held across the borough this month will highlight the support available. Businesses interested in applying for funding must attend one or of the pre-application workshops. The ability of the project to create jobs is crucial to a successful application.

MEA LAG chairman Victor Hart, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer businesses in rural areas the opportunity to apply for grants that will assist individual projects. To date we have allocated almost half a million pounds of funding to applicants with the potential for 30 full-time jobs being created.

“To date the maximum grant under the Business Investment Scheme was £50,000 but after a review, we’re pleased that the Mid and East Antrim Local Action Group decided to increase this by £40,000. We are confident that this extra money available will create further employment opportunities within rural areas.”

MEA LAG is funded under Priority 6 (LEADER) of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and the European Union.

The board operates on a voluntary basis and is made up of elected members from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and social partners from the business, farming, community and voluntary sectors.

MEA Mayor, Cllr Paul Reid said: “With almost two thousand rural businesses across the borough, we have a significant rural community to protect and develop. This extra funding is extremely welcome to help maintain and develop livelihoods that not only prop up our economy, but make up our fantastic communities here in Mid and East Antrim. Agriculture is one of council’s priority sectors which we’re committed to supporting and growing as part of the Integrated Economic Development Strategy for Mid and East Antrim.”

Anyone wishing to find out more about the funding available can contact the Investment & Funding Office on 028 2563 3266 or email [email protected]

You can also visit the website www.meardp.com