The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, has announced details of a special €28 million economic stimulus package for the Border region. The package, which applies to counties Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth, is designed to drive economic activity in the region and ensure that businesses have additional support in mitigating the impact of Brexit.
Announcing details of the stimulus package, Minister Humphreys said: “All of the research shows that the Border region is most exposed to the impact of Brexit. I want to ensure that businesses in the region are supported by Government in responding to the challenges and uncertainties which lie ahead. This is the first time my Department has provided targeted, ringfenced funding to a specific region which represents a strong statement of our commitment to the Border area. Through this package of measures, I want to make businesses in the border region more resilient, more innovative and more competitive so that we can stimulate enhanced economic activity in the region.
The Border Economic Stimulus Package includes:
- €3 million for the six Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) in the border counties for capability development programmes for micro and small firms with ambition;
- An €8.5 million Brexit Transformation Fund to enable firms to transform their businesses and diversify markets;
- €1.5 million for Industry Fellowships targeted at businesses located in Border counties, administered by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI); and
- A €15 million competitive Border Enterprise Development Fund, administered by Enterprise Ireland (EI).
To help stakeholders investigate the viability of potential projects and prepare final submissions for consideration for the €15m Border Enterprise Development Fund, Competitive Feasibility Funding is also available. This will be a grant of €15,000 or 50% of eligible costs, whichever is lesser, available to eligible applicants.
The Minister also announced that as part of the next phase of the IDA’s Regional Property Programme, three new Advanced Technology Buildings will be built in Dundalk, Monaghan and Sligo in 2020. These buildings will be critical as the IDA seek to attract more Foreign Direct Investment to the Border region.
Minister Humphreys added: “The funding I am announcing today is in addition to all of the existing Brexit supports which are already available nationwide. This is a series of bespoke, targeted initiatives designed to deliver maximum impact for the Border region.
“This additional €3m for the LEOs in the border counties will enable them to pilot a series of mentoring programmes for businesses focused on boosting exports, embracing innovation and improving management and financial skills capability.
“The €8.5m Brexit Transformation fund will enable Enterprise Ireland to support individual company capital projects to build Brexit resilience through transformation initiatives and diversification of product and markets.
“The €1.5 million in funding for Research Fellowships will see researchers take up placements in industry bringing new energy and specialist expertise to businesses in the Border region.
“I am also introducing a €15 million Competitive Border Enterprise Development Fund. This Fund will have a ground-up approach so that we can support national/regional, county and local stakeholders who come up with exciting, innovative and collaborative proposals which will make a positive economic impact in the Border region.
Finally, Minister Humphreys announced that a series of workshops with representatives from her Department’s enterprise agencies (Enterprise Ireland, the LEOs, SFI and IDA Ireland) will take place in each of the six border counties in the coming weeks to raise awareness of the various strands of the funding package.
“This is a golden opportunity for businesses in the border region and I want to ensure that they get the maximum benefit out of this funding. I would therefore encourage companies to attend these workshops, details of which will be announced shortly, so that they can hear directly from our enterprise agencies about what’s involved. I want to see strong, innovative, industry-led proposals coming forward which will make a real and lasting difference to the region.”