Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

£700,000 to help Derry small firms think big for 2013

Almost three quarters of a million pounds has been dropped into the coffers to help create 100 new jobs and start new businesses in Londonderry during the City of Culture celebration.

Invest NI along with the European Regional Development fund has contributed £700,000 towards a £1m programme for smaller businesses to help them deliver practical support to maximise opportunities during 2013.

Chief Executive of the Culture Company Shona McCarthy said that small businesses will have a critical role to play next year and this financial contribution would support this.

The Chief Executive of Invest NI, Alastair Hamilton (below right), revealed the spend during a visit to Derry.

He said: “We expect the programme to help create around 100 new jobs in existing and new businesses including around 11 start-up enterprises.

“Overall, the programme is projected to generate additional turnover of almost £5m during its duration. The City of Culture status has immense potential for companies across the broadest range of sectors, especially tourism, creative industries, music, crafts and food and drink.

“Our support shows our determination to help companies to respond quickly, effectively and profitably to the exciting business opportunities that will develop from this tremendously important programme.

“We have been working closely with Derry City Council to shape a programme of practical support that will enable smaller companies in particular to engage in this forthcoming event and to position themselves for similar activities throughout 2013.”

Derry City Council chief executive Sharon O’Connor said that next year presented once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for the city.

She said: “A key part of our ambition is to prepare businesses in the region to be adequately prepared for the huge opportunities that the UK City of Culture title will bring to the city and wider region during 2013.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance for the business sector to improve their skills and maximise their business growth opportunities so that their business will have a lasting legacy and sustainability for future generations.”

It was not the only cash injection for Derry as a result of the City of Culture title. The Big Lottery, along with the Arts Council, has set up a small grants programme offering amounts of up to £10,000 to communities across Northern Ireland that want to play a part in the Culture celebrations, up to a total fund of just over £141,000. Among the projects to benefit is Handful Production which, along with Foyle Haven, a drop-in centre for street drinkers in the city, will use its grant to run the Every Bottle has a Story to Tell drama project.

The project will work with street drinkers who are involved in Foyle Haven’s writing group, helping them turn a script they have written about their experiences into a play.

The play will initially be staged in the Playhouse Theatre in Derry in 2013 and then in a range of other venues including schools and community groups.

Derry City Council has been awarded the maximum funding available to run Sceal Na Gaeilge: The Story of Irish project.

Working with the Irish language community, the project will create an interpretative exhibition and companion guide, linking directly with the UK City of Culture 2013 by telling the local story of the Irish language and the people who speak it and helping to plan further Irish language arts and culture activities.

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