This month, Fermanagh and Omagh Local Action Group (LAG) Ltd is hosting a series of Funding Workshops for the Rural Business Investment Scheme across the district.

The Rural Business Investment Scheme provides financial support to new and existing rural businesses keen to develop and grow through expansion or diversification.

The Scheme is one part of priority six of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme (NIRDP) 2014 to 2020 which is being delivered locally by the LAG to promote social inclusion, poverty reduction and economic development in rural areas.

Under the Rural Business Investment Scheme eligible rural businesses can apply for funding of up to 50 per cent to support them to grow and maintain competitiveness.

The Funding Workshops provide an opportunity for prospective applicants to find out more about the Rural Business Investment Scheme and eligibility criteria, to discuss their project idea and to submit an expression of interest to apply.

Attendance at a Funding Workshop is the only entry point to the Rural Business Investment Scheme, therefore attendance is essential for anyone who wishes to submit an application to the scheme.

The next Funding Workshop for the Rural Business Investment Scheme will take place on Monday February 18, from 7pm to 9pm at the Bawnacre Centre, Irvinestown.

To date, more than 50 local rural businesses have benefited from a total investment of more than £1.5 million funding distributed by Fermanagh and Omagh LAG. Letters of Offer of funding support totalling more than £1 million have also been issued to a further 26 rural businesses recently by Fermanagh and Omagh LAG resulting in a total investment to date of £2.5 million.

This is the final opportunity for rural businesses to apply for funding under the Rural Business Investment Scheme.

Encouraging rural businesses to attend one of the Funding Workshops, Chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh LAG, Councillor John Feely, said:

“This is an exciting opportunity for rural businesses to seek financial support to pursue a growth project. The LAG has been delighted with interest in the Scheme to date and we encourage rural businesses located across the District to attend the Funding Workshops and unlock potential investment.

The LAG has a strong track record in delivering the Rural Development Programme and this final opportunity should not be missed. Projects in tourism, manufacturing and recycling have all been funded and the LAG hopes to see even greater diversity in this final call.”

Fermanagh and Omagh Local Action Group (LAG) Ltd is one of ten LAGs responsible for delivering priority six of the NIRDP 2014 to 2020 programme which focuses on social inclusion, poverty reduction and economic development in rural areas of Northern Ireland. It works in partnership with other agencies to make a positive contribution to the development of stronger rural communities through the creation of a more diverse and outward looking prosperous rural economy.

The LAG is responsible for the administration of a budget of approximately £8.3 million through the NIRDP 2014 to 2020 for the Fermanagh and Omagh District. The LAG is made up of 24 Members - 11 elected representatives nominated by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council (FODC) and 13 social partners representing the business, community and agriculture sectors.

The NIRDP 2014 to 2020 is part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).