Belfast Telegraph

Cross-border scheme to aid small firms

By Margaret Canning

A cross-border programme has been launched to boost small businesses in Northern Ireland and the border counties of the Republic.

The Tradelinks programme, which received £3m in funding from the European Union and is supported by the governments north and south, aims to support 550 small businesses — those employing fewer than 10 people in the ‘micro-enterprise’ sector.

Business advisers are to work with business owners to address the barriers to cross-border trade. The network claimed the first Tradelinks programme created over 800 jobs and generated over €50m of new sales. The programme was launched in Cookstown on Friday.

Howard Keery, director of the joint technical secretariat in the Special EU Programmes Body, said: “The Tradelinks programme is an excellent example of an EU supported initiative that will create direct benefits for micro-enterprises on a cross-border basis.”

Ken Nelson, chairman of Enterprise NI, added: “This is the second Tradelinks programme and we hope that it mirrors the successes of the first programme.

“The quality and the variety of support which we believe Tradelinks offers the micro-enterprise sector is testament to the time, commitment and consideration that has gone into providing this programme.”

Michael Tunney, chief executive of Donegal County Enterprise Board and joint-chair of the Tradelinks management committee, said the last programme had supported 680 small businesses. “It is now more important than ever before that businesses look at new markets both in geographical and sectoral terms,” he added.

Belfast Telegraph