Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots MLA has visited towns and villages across Northern Ireland’s North Coast to see how £2.7million funding provided by his Department can help to revitalise rural communities and stimulate the local economy.
The visits come after the Minister recently agreed to allocate a total of £2.7million to three separate schemes that aim to revitalise rural communities and help local businesses innovate, invest and expand, particularly throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Minister visited Randalstown, Garvagh, Coleraine and Portrush and met with local business owners throughout his tour. The Minister also met with the owners of Farlow Engineering, Garvagh, a metal fabrication and quarry maintenance business manufacturing lorry bodies, waste disposal equipment, alloy vandal guards, cabs, wrought iron products and other engineering products.
Farlow Engineering received £90,000 support from DAERA’s Rural Business Investment Scheme LEADER programme to help fund a purpose built 6,400 square foot workshop for construction of new trailer product and were successful in securing a second grant of £28,500 towards the installation of a new hydraulic brake press
Speaking about the visits, the Minister said: “Last week I launched a £1million Rural Micro Business Growth Scheme to encourage businesses invest in innovation and technology and I launched a £700,000 Rural Business Development Grant Scheme for new equipment, growth plans or building adaptations.
“I also allocated £1million through the Department for Communities Capital Covid-19 Recovery Revitalisation Scheme to help smaller settlements recover from the ongoing pandemic.
“My focus in allocating this funding is to help our rural businesses and communities, to give them confidence and allow them to not just invest in their current business – but to expand it, improve it and adapt it to meet the needs of the new world we find ourselves in.
“My visit to Farlow Engineering has shown just how vital this funding is – it has helped them to develop a new Ecodek trailer that because of its aerodynamic roof design achieves additional fuel savings. This is a great example of innovation that helps achieve green growth targets and gives the company room to grow and to create new jobs.
“Rural communities are truly at the heart of our society and small, locally-owned businesses have fully demonstrated how valuable they are in recent months.
“I want to reassure them that I believe it is vital that we in the NI Executive also play our part in trying to stimulate the economy and help them get back on their feet after a particularly difficult trading period due to Covid-19.”
The Minister concluded: “I would encourage all businesses to apply for the funding I have recently allocated and use it to boost their business and help to sustain our rural towns and villages.”