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Barriers to Rural Business Investment Scheme must be removed - McAleer

16 July, 2015 - by Declan McAleer

Sinn Féin MLA Declan McAleer has said rural planning policies should not hinder businesses from accessing funding from the upcoming Rural Business Investment Scheme. 

Speaking after meeting Environment Minister Mark H Durkan alongside Derry and Strabane councillor Dan Kelly, Mr McAleer said; 

"The Rural Business Investment Scheme is scheduled to open for applications in the Autumn and is available to private individuals and community-based organisations.

"The fund will provide capital grants with some support for marketing and bespoke training at a rate of 50% funding for private businesses and 75% for Social Economy Enterprises.

"In preparation for this programme, we recently organised a 'Rural Business Seminar', which was attended by over 80 local business people and addressed by key note speakers from DARD, the Rural Development Council, Omagh Enterprise Company with contributions from RCN, Omagh Forum and the Local Action Groups. 

"The over-riding themes emerging from the discussion was the importance of having a clear business idea, match funding, having statutory approvals in place and having a business case prepared.”

Cllr Kelly added: “From my involvement in the previous programme I know of many people who could not secure funding for their businesses because of planning policies.

“This is incredibly frustrating and detrimental for the individuals, their families and the wider economy. We highlighted such cases to Minister Durkan at our meeting and pressed him to ensure that rural planning policies are designed to enable economic development in local areas. 

“He agreed that planning policies should not be an impediment to securing funding and gave a commitment to explore this further with his departmental officials."

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