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DAERA Minister Edwin Poots visited towns in County Tyrone to encourage small and rural businesses to apply for £2.7million funding recently announced by his Department.

Three separate grant schemes have been announced in the last two weeks, with a view to stimulating and reinvigorating rural business and communities. The Minister met with local business owners at Fivemiletown, Tempo and Omagh.

Speaking about the visits, the Minister said: “I recently launched a £1million Rural Micro Business Growth Scheme to encourage businesses to invest in new technology and develop fresh and innovative approaches to developing their companies.

“I also announced a £700,000 Rural Business Development Grant Scheme for new equipment, growth plans or building adaptations. And, through the Department for Communities Capital Covid-19 Recovery Revitalisation Scheme, I allocated £1 million to help smaller areas recuperate from the ongoing pandemic.

“The aim in allocating this funding is to help our rural businesses and communities, to give them confidence and allow them to not just invest in their current business – but to expand it, improve it and adapt it to meet the needs of the new world we find ourselves in.”

RMS Systems Ltd at Fivemiletown received £39,000 from the LEADER Rural Business Investment Scheme towards the purchase of new equipment that will enable the company to expand their range of products.

Minister Poots added: “My visit to RMS Systems has shown just how vital this funding is – it has helped them to manufacture a variety of products on site that otherwise would have had to be bought in. It is exactly that type of innovation that the funding from my Department is aimed at achieving and will have the knock on effect of enabling employees to develop their skills further, safeguarding jobs, creating new ones and putting more money back into the local area.”

The Minister also visited Omagh company Colton Concrete, which received a funding investment of £50,000 also from the LEADER Rural Business Investment Scheme and will use the funding to develop pressed kerb stones in addition to their existing product range.

Minister Poots said: "The allocation of this funding will allow Colton Concrete to expand their already established export market in the Republic of Ireland. It will also allow them to increase their market share and to further explore exporting their materials into the UK."

Minister Poots concluded: "With the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, it has really brought into focus how rural communities are completely at the heart of our society. In the last few months, small, locally-owned businesses have truly demonstrated their value and how they are the backbone of our economy.

"I am determined to reinforce my reassurance that I believe it is of paramount importance that we in the NI Executive play our part in attempting to galvanise the economy, particularly after the financial impacts on trading caused by Covid-19. I am calling on all firms to apply for the funding, use it to boost their business and help sustain our rural towns and villages."