Late Surge In Applications For LEADER Grants

There was a huge surge in applications for funding under the Rural Development (LEADER) Programme coming up to the closing date according to Joe Potter CEO of WCD.The programme is closed for applications for now, but we are continuing to talk to community groups and other people who are developing projects as there is a possibility that more funding could become available.

All of our good work has paid off and a huge number of projects were approved for funding in recent months. There had been some concern during the year that the full allocation of funds available to County Westmeath would not be taken up, but it appears those fears were unfounded. Following a slow start, activity picked up significantly in 2012 and 2013, resulting in almost 8 million euro being committed to projects under the current programme which has been running since 2009. Project promoters themselves have invested a similar amount, which means a total investment of approximately 15 million euro has been made in rural development in the county in that period. It is estimated that the total investment in rural development projects since the mid-nineties when the LEADER programme first came to Westmeath to be of the order of 30 million euro. Reflecting further on recent trends he said that the virtual stagnation of the economy has presented huge challenges for potential entrepreneurs but that despite this, tourism, for example,  continues to hold its own in the county and in the past year there has been renewed interest in expansion of facilities by people already in the business.