NI Councils Provide Digital Support For Small Firms

Two Northern Ireland councils have joined forces to launch a Digital Growth Programme to support the development of small businesses.

Ards and North Down Borough Council has teamed up with Newry, Mourne and Down District Council to assist the growth of local businesses by helping them learn new skills and develop confidence in using digital platforms and technologies.

The initiative will include Digital Growth Workshops giving helpful insights into a wide range of areas including social media marketing, mobile marketing, search engine optimisation, Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising and virtual reality, augmented reality and the internet of things which will help accelerate business growth and job creation. Included in the programme will be one-to-one mentoring support (to a minimum of 260 businesses) and 'digital masterclass' events with industry experts, helping businesses understand and implement the latest in digital.

The Digital Growth Programme is part funded by Invest NI and the European Regional Development Fund.

Mark Bleakney, Invest NI's Southern Regional Manager, commented: "In the last 10 years, digital transformation has had a powerful influence on how we do business and keeping up with this rapidly changing environment is fundamental in today's business world. To help businesses here foster a digital culture, we are delighted to support the Digital Growth Programme."

Mayor of Ards and North Down Borough Council, Alderman Bill Keery, said: "We are committed to investing in initiatives to help accelerate the growth of local businesses. Digital technologies are being used in most, if not all sectors and it has never been more critical for businesses to embrace the platforms available to them. Through this programme, we look forward to providing local micro and small businesses with access to specialist support. This will help increase their knowledge and skills of the digital industry with the purpose of driving their business forward."

Councillor Charlie Casey, Chairperson of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, hopes the initiative will help small local companies stay up to date with modern technologies. He said: "The digital economy is an important driver for innovation, competitiveness and growth for the local economy. With an experienced team of digital experts, participating businesses will benefit from interventions, networking, mentoring and workshops, all designed to support both councils' aims to help businesses grow and ultimately strengthen its digital economy."

Eligible businesses must be located in either of the two council areas, employ less than 50 people and be actively trading.

Further information and applications for the Digital Growth Programme can be found online.

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