Minister Poots: 'Grant schemes will allow businesses to stay at the top of the tree'

Date published: 11 August 2020

Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots MLA has said access to three separate grant schemes totalling £2.7 million will allow rural businesses to innovate and expand.

Minster Poots is pictured with Tom Abraham, owner of Abraham Tree Maintenance. Minister Poots has encouraged rural business owners to avail of £2.7million grant funding to grow or consolidate their businesses.

Three separate grant schemes have been rolled out within the last two weeks aimed at re-energising rural companies and the communities in which they operate. Minister Poots has visited several firms across Northern Ireland in recent days to see for himself how the financial boosts will give rural firms the opportunity to purchase new equipment and as a result create new employment, safeguard existing jobs and as a result direct more money into the economy both locally and nationally.

Speaking after a visit to Abraham Tree Maintenance at Waringstown in Co Armagh, Minister Poots said: "Recently I launched a £1 million Rural Micro Business Growth Scheme to encourage companies to invest in state-of-the-art technology that will allow them to progress new and innovative ideas to expand their current operations.

"I also announced a £700,000 Rural Business Development Grant Scheme to bolster growth plans, building adaptations and buying new equipment. Also, through the Department for Communities Capital Covid-19 Recovery Revitalisation Scheme, I have allocated £1 million to help rural areas recover from the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

"The overall aim of allocating this funding is to grow the confidence of our rural businesses and communities. It is not just a matter of encouraging rural firms to invest but to adapt, innovate and expand to meet the challenges of the new world we find ourselves in."

Abraham Tree Maintenance was founded over 30 years ago and provides a range of horticultural services. They have received £27,591 from the funding streams that represented over 50 per cent of a £55,000 investment in a specialist saw and a wood chipper. The funding the company received in 2018 created two new jobs which are still in existence.

Minister Poots added: "Companies such as Abraham Tree Maintenance are a prime example of the vital importance of funding like this. It has helped them concentrate on expanding their range of services which also have a beneficial effect on our environment.

"It is exactly this type of forward thinking that my Department is determined to create across all sectors of business and to place at the heart of government in Northern Ireland. The funding also allows workers to develop new skills to safeguard their jobs, allow the creation of new ones and create a knowledge base to inform generations of employees to come. It is therefore obvious that this type of thinking will have a knock on effect of putting more money back into our economy."

Minister Poots concluded: "The Coronavirus pandemic has really brought it sharply into focus more than ever before how rural communities are a linchpin of our society as a whole. In recent months, small, locally-owned businesses have truly demonstrated their true value and that they are the backbone of our economy.

"I want to give my utmost reassurance that I believe it is crucial that we in the NI Executive continue to play our part in attempting to underpin the economy, particularly after the financial impacts on trading caused by Covid-19. I am calling on all firms to get applying for the funding, use it to bolster their business and in doing safeguard the wellbeing and viability our rural towns and villages and assist our rural companies keep their rightful place at the 'top of the tree.”

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