ALMOST €19m has been paid out in grant funding to businesses across Donegal this year under Restart Grant Schemes.
The grant, administered by Donegal County Council, is to help businesses with the costs associated with the Covid-19 pandemic.
To date, over 4,000 individual grant payments to the value of €18.6m have been paid since the initiative was introduced in May.
The Business Restart Grant Plus scheme amounts to direct grant aid of between a minimum of €4,000 to €25,000, based on commercial rates bill from 2019.
It was open to businesses that have a turnover of less than €100,000 per employee up to a maximum of €25million.
Details of the Council led Covid-19 business supports have been outlined to members of the Council’s Economic, Enterprise and Emergency Strategic Policy Committee.
Mr Garry Martin, Director of Economic Development, Emergency Services and Information Systems, said there were a ‘substantial’ number of supports available to businesses across Donegal.
“There has never been a more important time for businesses to take advantage of the supports given the very challenging situation that we find ourselves in.
“The range of supports and advisory services that are available are of a scale and a nature that are unprecedented.
“It’s important that all businesses survive and, hopefully, thrive in due course after this difficult period,” Mr Martin said.
Business Restart Grant Plus
Ms Anne Marie Conlon, Head of Economic Development at Donegal County Council, said that while the ‘Business Restart Grant Plus’ scheme closed at the end of last month, additional grant supports (‘Top’Ups’) have been introduced for businesses in Donegal.
“Some of these grants have already been paid out to businesses. Many more are being processed and every effort is being made to distribute this grant funding as early as possible,” she said.
The Commercial Rates Waiver for 2020 has been extended to cover the nine-month period up to end of the year while the Council’s ‘Small Business Rebate’ scheme allows businesses to avail of a 7.5% reduction (up to a maximum of €375) if their Commercial Rates liability is discharged in full during the year.
Members heard that in 2019, a total of 2,273 customers availed of the Small Business Rebate at a total cost to Donegal County Council of €443,654.
Business Continuity Voucher
Michael Tunney, Head of Enterprise, said that almost €1 million had been paid out under the Business Continuity Voucher – designed for businesses that employ up to 50 people.
Members heard that a total of 574 applications were approved by Donegal LEO, to the value of €917,560, for the scheme which is now closed to new applications.
The voucher, worth up to €2,500 in third party consultancy costs, can be used by companies and sole traders to develop short-term and long-term strategies to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, the Trading Online Voucher (TOV) Scheme which offers assistance for businesses looking to build an online presence has recorded significant demand. Ninety per cent financial assistance up to €2500 is available to small businesses that have been trading for more than 6 months with less than 10 employees.
“A total of 372 TOV applications have approved by the Local Enterprise Office in 2020 with grant funding of €899,000,” Mr Tunney said.
“That’s open indefinitely at the moment at 90 per cent so, again, it’s there for the foreseeable future,” he added.
Cllr Ciaran Brogan, Chairman, Economic, Enterprise and Emergency SPC, acknowledged the huge body of work being undertaken by the Council.
“The message we’re sending out this week is that we’re open for business and for people that haven’t engaged to date should. There is supports there,” Cllr Brogan said.