Covid-19: More supports announced for businesses
“These additional supports will go a long way to helping business in Louth during these challenging times,” so said Thomas McEvoy, Louth County Council’s Head of Enterprise. He was speaking this week after Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys TD announced a follow-up package of measures for businesses impacted by COVID19.
The first of the announcements was additional funding for the Trading Online Voucher Scheme. Thomas explains “At present, face-to-face trading opportunities are almost non-existent. But there are opportunities to sell to your customers online and we want to help SMEs to do that. The voucher is worth up to €2,500 for businesses with up to 10 employees who want to start selling online. Companies who have already accessed this programme can apply for a second voucher to add or upgrade their sites e.g. adding e-commerce facilities to the website.”
The Minister also announced a reduction in interest rates for the Microfinance Ireland ‘Covid’ Loan Scheme. This allows small businesses to access loans of up to €50,000 with no repayments and no interest for the first 6 months. Loans are available to all small businesses with less than 10 staff, including the retail, tourism, software and transport sectors. The interest rate for loans accessed through the Local Enterprise Office will be at 4.5%, significantly lower than the market rate.
He also welcomed the expansion of the Local Enterprise Office free mentoring and training programmes. “The mentoring and training services offered by the Local Enterprise Office are a critical life-line for businesses right now. We’re helping clients to stay focused, find solutions and ways to innovate, cut costs, manage cashflow, prepare funding applications, develop resilience and prepare for re-opening. This period is all about helping businesses to survive and ensure that they are stronger heading into the reboot phase.”
These three measures are specifically targeted at small businesses but Minister Humphreys also announced a range of measures for larger businesses. These include a COVID19 Retail Online Scheme supporting indigenous retail businesses with more than 10 employees, a LEAN Business Improvement Grant, a Working Capital Loan Scheme and a Future Growth Loan Scheme through SBCI.
Thomas explained: “Whatever size or stage your business is at, you will find the most up to date information on supports available at www.localenterprise.ie/response. This will remain the central hub for all of this information over the coming weeks. Check in regularly for the latest updates.”
Thomas concluded: “In these challenging times, supporting local business and jobs is now more important than ever. The team at the Local Enterprise Office in Louth County Council are here to help and support. Whatever challenges your business is facing, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.localenterprise.ie/louth. We are the first port of call for business in Louth.”