A business grant scheme to help businesses to deal with the impact of COVID-19 and to help them attract customers again has been announced by Derry City and Strabane District Council as part of its COVID-19 Revitalisation and Recovery programme.
The funding from the Department for Communities and DAERA, announced last week as part of a regional funding scheme across Northern Ireland, will be rolled out to support Retail, Hospitality and Cultural/ Heritage businesses across the Council area to help them put in place new measures to encourage customers back to their business.
Under the scheme, businesses can apply for grant funding from £500 to £3000 to assist them with reopening and to encourage trade back into city and town centres as well as rural locations across the Council area.
The money can be spent to enhance shop frontages or erect awnings, purchase outdoor furniture or heaters or install hand-sanitising stations.
Businesses can also use the funding to carry out minor works to assist with social distancing measures or barriers to help with queuing or to assist with staff training or the installation of digitisation systems.
Welcoming the funding, the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Brian Tierney said the monies would go some way towards providing support to local businesses who are reopening in a very challenging economic climate.
He said the Department for Communities funding would help restore public confidence to return to shop or visit city and town centres.
“Our businesses have faced a lot of uncertainty over the past number of months and its important the Council and the relevant Government departments do all they can to provide the necessary support and assistance to help them recover as part of their reopening plans.
“I welcome the Department’s commitment to providing that support and believe it will go a long way towards helping them put in place the necessary measures to encourage shoppers back.
“By installing items such as outdoor seating, hand sanitising units and awnings, the public will be encouraged to return to their local café, restaurant or shop and this funding will greatly assist in allowing businesses to do that work.”
Businesses are advised that as part of the funding package they can work together to submit an application of up to £25k for a specific area of the city, town or rural area.
Mayor Tierney said the funding package is part of the wider revitalisation programme of recovery that the Council is working on in partnership with the Department for Communities and the Department for Infrastructure and relevant stakeholders, partners and businesses, to enhance and revive city and town centres in the Council area.
“We are working in collaboration and close consultation with all interested parties to put in place a range of mechanisms that will promote our commercial areas and entice the public to return to our shops, restaurants and cafes.
“We are putting into place a variety of measures that will make our businesses more accessible and our streets safer and user friendly so that everyone can play its part in making Derry and Strabane open for business again.”
Kieran Kennedy Chairman of the Strabane BID said: “This funding package is a step in the right direction towards offering businesses an opportunity to respond positive to the challenges from COVID.
“It is important that as many local businesses as possible avail of this funding to help them put in place some incentives to attract customers and enhance their business offering.”
Jim Roddy, Chief Executive and City Centre Manager at City Centre Initiative added: “This is fantastic news and it reflects the work that all the stakeholders have been involved in over the past four months.
“It has been a very difficult time for everyone, but in particular it has been extremely challenging for local businesses. We welcome this announcement of much needed grant aid at a time when we are all working towards the reimaging of our city centre.”