Businesses start-up plan starts work after legal fight
Up to 5,000 business entrepreneurs braving the harsh economic times are to be rewarded with government help to get their business ideas off the ground.
The Regional Start Initiative (RSI) aims to give "very important support" to people wanting to set up their own firm, said Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster.
The scheme, to be operated by Enterprise Northern Ireland and managed through Invest NI's regional office network, will run over a two-year period.
The news follows last year's legal challenge by Enterprise NI after Invest NI awarded the contract for start-up scheme Go For It to a consortium of business advisers KPMG and the Go Group.
Go For it had previously been run by Northern Ireland's enterprise agencies for 20 years.
Following a second tendering process, the enterprise agencies - through umbrella group Enterprise Northern Ireland - won back the reins of the scheme.
Enterprise Minster Arlene Foster said it would provide "important support for people looking to start their own business".
"It aims to raise the overall number and quality of business starts in Northern Ireland by providing innovative advisory and training support to individuals and businesses at start-up stage.
"The programme aims to support up to 5000 businesses to get started in the next two years. This is a demanding target but one that is essential if we are to support the rebuilding of our economy and the creation of new jobs."
SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone of the Assembly's enterprise committee, has welcomed the news.
"It's good news to see some support for our small businesses given the time that they are going through at the minute in the current economic climate.
"It's good to see a range of initiatives to help get business started and especially coming from the department.
"Any overall strategy has to support and sustain existing businesses and it has to help them expand and has to help new business develop. That's how it will be judged."
The number of firms the initiative aims to help over the next two years