A unique programme to safeguard and grow businesses in the Fermanagh and Omagh areas, particularly in the current difficult economic climate, was launched last week by Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster.
The 'Survive and Thrive Programme’ is a joint initiative between the Councils in Fermanagh and Omagh, and it aims to help local businesses in the West to not only create new jobs, but to safeguard existing jobs and to increase sales.
The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) co–financed the programme through an offer of £157,000 financial assistance from the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland 2007 – 2013. This was match funded by Fermanagh and Omagh Councils with a further £157,000.
Speaking at the launch in Enniskillen Town Hall, the Minister commended both Fermanagh and Omagh District Councils for having the foresight to develop the programme.
Arlene Foster said: “In the current economic climate it is imperative that local businesses are assisted through innovative programmes like this and I am encouraged that businesses across the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council areas will benefit greatly from the support that will be provided from this joint collaboration.
“In an ever more competitive market place we must ensure our small businesses are equipped to compete. This programme is an excellent example of how indigenous entrepreneurs and SMEs can be supported through locally tailored business development solutions.”
In developing the innovative programme Fermanagh and Omagh District Councils recognised the need to offer support for local businesses which have been facing the toughest challenges over the past number of years to survive and grow in the economic downturn. The programme aims not only to protect jobs and create employment opportunities, but to assist small local firms to grow and become more innovative by offering direct support through expert assistance on a one-to-one basis from a wide range of business mentors.
Speaking at the launch, Councillor Cyril Brownlee Vice Chairperson of Fermanagh District Council said he would encourage as many businesses as possible to explore the opportunities afforded by the programme.
“This unique programme is exactly what is needed to support businesses to survive and grow in the current economic climate. The programme is completely client focused and I would like to thank DETI for the financial support through the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland”, he said.
In commending the development of the programme, which will provide on going support to ensure businesses in the rural West receive lasting and tangible benefits, the Vice Chairman of Omagh District Council, Councillor Anne Marie Fitzgerald said: “Assistance of this type is rarely so flexible and open to such a range of businesses, which makes the programme so attractive and why it has been so positively received. I too would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the support that has been provided.”
Those attending the launch were also given a local business’s view of how to survive and thrive in the current challenging financial markets. Brian Murphy, Financial Director of Balcas Ltd outlined how his company had to diversify and change to meet the demands of a difficult market and how these changes made a significant impact on the company’s success.
In drawing the launch to a close, the Project Coordinator for the Survive and Thrive Programme, Noelle McAloon, explained that the initiative offered businesses a chance to review their current practices and avail of expert assistance from a wide range of business mentors. “This is a business programme for the benefit of local business and it will be delivered in a way that is accessible to all types of business in the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council areas”, she said.
All small to medium sized businesses located in the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council Areas who are not Invest NI clients are eligible to avail of the unique support offered by Survive & Thrive.
To find out more about the Survive & Thrive Programme or to become a client company please contact the Programme Coordinator Noelle McAloon on 078 7242 4246 or e-mail [email protected]