idea2enterprise – working proactively for business in Westmeath
The successful launch of Westmeath Community Development’s idea2enterprise programme took place in both Athlone and Mullingar on Thursday June 28th 2012 with a tremendous groundswell of positivity and enthusiasm for business start-ups and new commercial ideas in County Westmeath rural areas. The event was attended by members of the local business community, staff and board members of Westmeath Community Development, public representatives and members of Athlone and Mullingar Chamber of Commerce. The register showed skills of attendees varied widely from craft industry to technology. Such was the success of the day that over 150 people, planning to develop a business idea, submitted expression of interest forms to take part in the programme.
The objective of idea2enterprise is to support local rural businesses in making their idea a reality and to apply for LEADER grant aid of 75% of capital expenditure, up to a maximum of €150,000. Up to €30,000 is also available for feasibility study. Through a series of group workshops and one to one mentoring the criteria for the LEADER funding will be demystified and participants will be guided through the application forms and supported to apply for grant aid for eligible projects.
"idea2enterprise is for anyone who has a new business idea or is thinking of expanding their current business, including community projects which will create jobs" said Nuala Greenan, idea2enterprise team. The idea2enterprise team comprises Nuala Greenan, Evelyn Cormican and Máirín O’Reilly – using their combined management and leadership experience in project management, training, consultation and communications with SME’s and LEADER clients they have combined forces with Westmeath Community Development personnel to plan and roll out this new programme. An additional panel of consultants has been assembled in the relevant sectors of micro-enterprise, tourism, craft, renewable energy, food and angling as well as agri-diversification.
Speaking at the launch event Laura Leonard, representing Westmeath Community Development encouraged attendees to avail of the expertise available. She said ‘Through this new programme we aim to create increased awareness of the supports we have available for rural businesses to access LEADER funding, develop new projects and create jobs in the Westmeath rural area. Westmeath Community Development administers LEADER grants following specific criteria under the Rural Development Programme which receives 55% of its funding from the EU and 45% from the Irish Exchequer and places major emphasis on the implementation of innovative approaches to rural development at a local level. This in turn will add to the quality of life achieved in rural communities throughout the county.’
Participants on the programme will receive support in areas of business planning and grant application through idea development workshops, information on business planning, financial forecasting, sources of funding, market research, sales and marketing, branding and business management.
Highlighting the value of participating in this programme, Nuala Greenan outlined the plan and schedule for idea2enterprise. Following the Rural Development programme and LEADER guidelines she explained and simplified the criteria for applicants.
The stories of existing LEADER supported projects and businesses provided great inspiration and motivation for attendees. Local success stories highlighted were Ballinahown Craft Village, CORE Crafted Design and Ballinahown Community Development as well as Lilliput Adventure Centre in Johnathan Swift Park, outside Mullingar on the shores of Lough Ennell. Stories from around the country included a very broad range of projects in aviation, agri-tourism, organic food production, wood fuel processing, tyre recycling and many more.
Attendees were invited to complete their Expression of Interest forms during the event and submit them at the end. If you were unable to attend this event and would like to register your interest email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 044 9348571 without delay.