More than £2m to be invested in rural areas of borough

Emma Stubbs (Economic & Rural Development Manager), Majella McAlister (Director of Community Planning & Regeneration), Councillor Thomas Hogg (Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey), Councillor Phillip Brett (Chair of Community Planning & Regeneration Committee), Councillor Brian Duffin (Vice Chair of GROW), Councillor Roisin Lynch (Vice Chair of Community Planning & Regeneration Committee) and Jacqui Dixon (ANBC Chief Executive) pictured at the launch of the Local Action Group and commencement of the Rural Development Programme. INNT 10-530CON
Emma Stubbs (Economic & Rural Development Manager), Majella McAlister (Director of Community Planning & Regeneration), Councillor Thomas Hogg (Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey), Councillor Phillip Brett (Chair of Community Planning & Regeneration Committee), Councillor Brian Duffin (Vice Chair of GROW), Councillor Roisin Lynch (Vice Chair of Community Planning & Regeneration Committee) and Jacqui Dixon (ANBC Chief Executive) pictured at the launch of the Local Action Group and commencement of the Rural Development Programme. INNT 10-530CON

GROW South Antrim recently celebrated the allocation of more than £2million from the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2014 - 2020.

The budget of £2.14m has been allocated for investment in rural areas of Antrim and Newtownabbey across a wide range of projects including business creation and development, basic services and village renewal.

Chair of the GROW Local Action Group, Councillor Vera McWilliam, explained: “The Local Action Group are made up of local people representing business, community, agriculture, council and statutory sectors so, it is very much a case of local people making decisions for the local area.

“Funding is available under a wide range of themes, offering excellent opportunities to those living and working in rural areas to shape their future and tackle the challenges which face rural dwellers.

“We look forward to supporting projects and investing in the local communities to make a real difference to the quality of life in rural South Antrim, especially in these difficult economic times. The key message is that by investing together, we can grow together.”

The first call for funding applications will be made under the Rural Business Investment scheme for micro and small businesses up to 49 full time equivalent employees.

The scheme offers maximum grants of up to £30,000 for new businesses and £50,000 for existing businesses at a grant rate of 50 per cent. GROW are currently taking registrations for the mandatory pre-application workshops, so anyone interested in finding out more should call 028 9448 1311 for further details.

It is hoped that information sessions for the other schemes will be held in April, so any rural dwellers or community organisations with development ideas should contact the GROW office.

The NI Rural Development Programme 2014 - 2020 is part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.