Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Meanwhile, here's help to start up small firms

At a vacant shop front in Lurgan Town Centre are, from left: Ciaran Tipping, Craigavon Borough Council economic development officer, Councillor Darren Causby, Julie McCrory from Lurgan Chamber of Commerce and Derek Browne from Insight Consulting

Ten new firms in Lurgan and Portadown are being offered rent-free use of a town centre property for four months and a grant of £500 in a bid to stimulate business.

Five companies in each town will get support from the Meanwhile In Craigavon scheme, delivered by Groundwork Northern Ireland and Insight Business Consulting, for Craigavon Borough Council.

Potential landlords and tenants are currently being recruited for the initiative and public meetings have been arranged in both areas where prospective applicants can hear first hand how steps are being taken to help their businesses grow.

At a time when around 20% of shops in Craigavon are currently lying empty, Groundwork NI Director Sylvia Gordon said that anyone with a business or project idea can apply.

"Our town centres are facing huge pressure and until broader economic recovery embeds, the Meanwhile programme can make a very positive difference," she said.

"We want to help any type of business - a start-up, a social economy project, a community initiative or even an existing business keen to expand.

"A range of currently unused units of all sizes have been identified and we want to get these filled quickly, as we know it will boost job opportunities in the area and bring footfall to our town centres."

Councillor Darren Causby from Craigavon Borough Council added: "The Meanwhile scheme offers a great opportunity to those we know can pull us out of the current economic crisis - those in our community committed to creating local jobs and wealth."

Both information meetings will be held on Thursday, December 13, with the Portadown leg taking place in the Town Hall at 6.30pm, while Lurgan's Town Hall is the venue at 8.30pm.

If you think you have a business idea or a project which fits the bill, you can find out more or apply to the Meanwhile In Craigavon programme by contacting Richard Rogers at Groundwork NI by e-mail at richardrogers@groundworkni.org.uk or by telephone at 028 9074 9494.