The launch this week of a new €60 million ‘Regional Enterprise Development Fund’ is a key commitment of the Action Plan for Rural Ireland and will help speed up and extend our economic recovery across Galway, Mayo and the West. The new Fund, which is action no. 69 in ‘Realising Our Rural Potential: Action Plan for Rural Development’, has been increased to €60 million from an initial allocation of €50 million and will be delivered by Enterprise Ireland on behalf of the Government.
There are four funding streams – Major Change Projects, Regionally Significant Projects, Local & Community Enterprise Development Projects, and Industry Clusters.
The recent CSO employment figures show that employment is at its highest in the West since 2009 with unemployment now down to 6.9% compared with 17% during the recession.
The Regional Economic Development Fund’ announced by my colleague Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor will help sustain this progress by providing targeted funding for projects that will boost the local economy and create jobs.
The new Fund provides a clear framework of support for new projects and initiatives which build on existing strengths of a city, county or region or help to seize new opportunities. Examples of the support which Galway, Mayo and the West which could be accessed include funding for the development of hubs in design, medical devices, agri-technologies, among other sectors.
The Fund can be also be accessed by institutions such as NUIG and GMIT to further develop incubators or the setting up of start-ups/scaling programmes. A further feature of the Fund which will benefit the West is the funding stream for Industry Clusters. We have clusters in Galway in ICT, medical devices, among other industries, and pharmaceuticals, among others, in Mayo which will be able to explore new opportunities and win new business through the help of this Fund.
Applications are being accepted until 18th August and I encourage businesses, business representatives groups, educational institutions as well as the City and County Councils to consider applying and access funding that will benefit Galway, Mayo and the West.