To mark Local Enterprise Week (4-8 March), Ireland’s National Rural Network (NRN) today celebrates that €13.5million has been approved through the current LEADER Programme for the sub-theme of Enterprise Development in Ireland.

338 projects nationally, from sectors such as tourism, engineering, social enterprise, creative industries, food and drink, are benefiting from the funding approved under the Enterprise Development sub-theme of the LEADER Programme. For example, the funding can be used for equipment, capital works, training, feasibility studies, branding and e-commerce development.

Economic development, enterprise development and job creation is a key theme of the current LEADER Programme, which is a key component of Ireland’s Rural Development Programme 2014-2020. Outside of directly supporting enterprise through the Enterprise Development sub-theme LEADER also supports the wider positive development of a supportive ecosystem for enterprise in rural areas, such as through the rural towns, rural tourism and broadband sub-themes.

Dr Maura Farrell, NUI Galway and NRN said, “LEADER funding can be key to the initial start-up and development of local rural enterprises, which enhance and sustain rural areas across Ireland”.

Examples of rural enterprises that have benefited from the LEADER Enterprise Development funds include:

  • Mid Ireland Adventure, a Co. Offaly based start-up set up to address the growing demand for adventure sport activities in rural locations.
  • Coillte Sláintiúil is a Co. Cork based start-up enterprise, providing a range of woodland conservation solutions, such as to contain invasive species and disease which are a major threat to woodland biodiversity loss.

Part of the National Rural Network’s ongoing work is to develop case studies to understand the impact of LEADER funding and develop project examples to demonstrate what is possible. A number of enterprise-related case studies have been published by Dr Aisling Murtagh, Research and Development Officer with the National Rural Network on the NRN’s website at www.nationalruralnetwork.ie/leader

Since its inception in 1991, LEADER has provided grants to rural Ireland to direct economic and social development through community-led local development. Funded through Ireland’s Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2014-2020, across all thematic areas of the current LEADER Programme, a total of 1,711 projects have been approved with a value of €58.7 million. A further 61 projects with a value of €1.26 million have been approved for projects under the Cooperation and Food Initiative themes.

Those interested in accessing assistance under the LEADER Programme should contact their Local Action Group (LAG). An interactive map featuring all Irish LAGs and Implementing Partners can be found in the LEADER section of the National Rural Network website: http://www.nationalruralnetwork.ie/leader-map.  A version of this information is also available to download:  https://www.nationalruralnetwork.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Irish-LAGs-and-IPs-NRN-Contact-List.pdf