Massive funding package will benefit Cookstown

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THE launch of the new support programme will help over 200 businesses in the Cookstown district to grow and develop.

The Enterprise Minister, Mrs Arlene Foster MLA, formally launched Cookstown District Council’s new suite of business development programmes last Wednesday (April 24) at the Burnavon.

This scheme is designed to deliver a comprehensive package of tailored support to 225 businesses throughout the Cookstown district over the next two years.

Funded by Cookstown District Council and Invest NI, the projects are part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund under the Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland.

The five programmes are the Business Elevate Programme, the Fastrack to Finance, the Tender Programme, Resource Efficiency Programme and the sub-regional ‘South West Export Programme.

The Business Elevate Programme will deliver assistance across key areas such as new product and process development, sales, marketing and developing quality systems, while the Fastrack to Finance Programme will help businesses assess the viability of new concepts and help them access finance to progress this. 
 The Tender Programme seeks to build on the success of a previous award winning Multi-Sectoral Tendering Programme. It will help businesses identify tender opportunities and work with them to develop professional tender bids to secure new work.

Cookstown is currently only one of three councils to offer a Resource Efficiency Programme which will provide practical support to assist businesses to identify and implement resource efficiencies and achieve cost savings.

A sub-regional South West Export Programme has also been developed by Cookstown, Dungannon and South Tyrone, Magherafelt, Fermanagh and Omagh Councils.

This programme will assist 21 first time export businesses in the Cookstown district, and 105 businesses across the region, to break into new markets in the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain.

Essential for businesses to receive support

ENTERPRISE Minister Arlene Foster MLA spoke at the launch of the business development programme at the Burnavon last week.

She said Cookstown District Council has worked to develop this suite of programmes by listening to businesses in the district and tailoring the programmes to understanding their specific needs.

“The council has also worked closely with Invest Northern Ireland to ensure that the initiatives would complement the support already on offer to businesses in the Cookstown region,” she said.‪

The MLA said Invest NI is working with councils right across Northern Ireland to offer support for a range of local economic development initiatives.

“It is crucial that we all continue to work in partnership so we can further strengthen and the private sector,” she added.

Extending a warm welcome to the Minister, Councillor Tony Quinn, Chairman of Cookstown District Council explained its aspirations for the new programmes.

He pointed out that in these difficult trading times council believes it is essential that our small and medium enterprises receive targeted support to stimulate their growth potential.

“Over the next two years these programmes will provide a significant economic stimulus for our local business community, which are the lifeblood of our economy, and on which we rely to provide the future sustainability and prosperity of our district,” he said.

Previous programme led to job creation

COOKSTOWN District Council’s Chief Executive (Acting) Adrian McCreesh outlined the outstanding success and long term impact of two economic development programmes recently completed.

The Engineering Innovation Programme and the award-winning Multi-Sectoral Tendering Programme assisted businesses to secure new contracts valued at £12.5 million and contributed to the creation of 53 new jobs.

He explained that Cookstown District Council recognises the importance of stimulating the private sector at grassroots level by providing programmes of a very practical nature focussed on enhancing business sustainability, growth and competitiveness.

“To achieve this goal, council has set ambitious targets for these programmes including the creation of 45 new jobs and leveraging additional economic benefits to participating businesses of over £1.5 million by 2015,” he explained.

Following the event businesses had the opportunity to speak to the programme delivery agents and discuss the new range of supports available.

For information on these programmes please contact Fiona McKeown, Economic Development Manager, Cookstown District Council, tel: 028 8676 2205 or email: fiona.mckeown@cookstown.gov.uk.