31/08/2011

Jobs Boosted By Rural Development

Ongoing countryside developments are creating new jobs and helping existing firms to grow.

According to the Northern Ireland Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O'Neill, the Rural Development Programme (RDP) is creating jobs as well as helping rural businesses grow.

The Minister was speaking after a visit to Lenalea Electronics Ltd. in Markethill where she saw at first hand how the business has benefitted from RDP funding.

The company provides a broad range of contract electronic manufacturing solutions and with financial assistance of £11,736 has purchased specialised x-ray inspection equipment. This technological know-how has enabled it to successfully compete for more complex contracts.

Speaking after the visit, Minister O'Neill said: "Lenalea Electronics is an excellent example of how the RDP is making a positive contribution towards business development and job creation in rural areas.

"With a modest amount of funding together with their own financial input, this company has invested in equipment which has enabled it to increase its efficiency and secure more complex contracts. Through this, two additional jobs have been created and this is welcome news in the current economic climate," she said.

The company was awarded the funding by Southern Organisation for Action in Rural Areas (SOAR), under the RDP's Axis 3 Measure 3.2 'Business Creation and Development'.

The Minister continued: "Creating employment through entrepreneurship and developing economic infrastructure in rural areas is what this stream of funding is all about.

"I am encouraged that it is delivering on the ground and that businesses are receiving money specifically set aside to help them prosper and secure a successful future.

"So far some £7.5m has been committed to projects under Measure 3.2 'Business Creation and Development'.

"Partnership working is critical to the success of this programme and I know that I can rely on Local Action Groups and local Councils to continue to work hard to ensure that the SME sector gets the help it needs to make its contribution to economic recovery," she continued.

Directors of the company Simon Pollock and David Foster voiced their support for the RDP and said that without the assistance provided through SOAR their project would not have been possible.

They said: "We are indebted to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and SOAR for their support.

"The application process was straightforward and we would encourage others to avail of the opportunities that exist within the programme."

The Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 (NIRDP) is part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and over this period is worth £500m to Northern Ireland.

(BMcC/GK)

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