Council have backed a motion from Ulster Unionist Councillors to establish a fund to support entrepreneurs bringing forward new business ventures

SUPPORTING OUR ENTREPRENEURS

Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council have backed a motion from Ulster Unionist Cllrs Holmes and Wilson to establish a fund to support entrepreneurs bringing forward new business ventures.

Speaking to Causeway Coast Community Cllr Holmes said:
“One of the biggest steps anyone can take in their career is the one to go it alone. It takes a special kind of person to be an entrepreneur. And that’s where this motion springs from.

We’re probably all very familiar with the Dragons’ Den style of funding support these days and the opportunity to go from pitch to rich. But when you examine the stories of those brave entrepreneurs, there is a common theme found in the qualities of the individuals. You need to be a leader, a risk taker, self-confident, have a vision, a tenacity and above all the ability to access the funding necessary to drive the business forwards.

For start-up businesses funding can often be hard to come by and many funders will require equity holding. A council led grant fund could certainly be an option for these businesses.

As a council it is important that we encourage businesses, whether in manufacturing or the service sector. I’ve specifically mentioned that “New business ventures should be novel and cause no job displacement.” Whilst I’ve nothing against hair and beauty salons, this fund is not designed to support them but for those who have come up with something that is different, that hasn’t been done before, one where the business could be one of the first to market.

I’ve been privileged to work closely with one of NI’s entrepreneurs for the last 20 years. Back in 1990 the company owner took the plunge. As part of his University degree he saw the potential for a new product to be used in a particular sector of the construction industry. He scrapped up a five-figure sum and started his own business. Today that business is pumping over £5m into the local economy in the form of wages and NI Contributions. It exports throughout the UK, Ireland and Europe.
We need to encourage more of these entrepreneurs. And this is particularly so for CCGBC.

Whilst this council area is blessed with the most stunning scenery and tourism offer in the whole of NI which helps to feed a thriving tourism industry, these jobs tend to be seasonal and lower paid.

We also have a University well renowned in the areas of ICT and Pharmacy. Both these sectors offer higher than average paid jobs and profit margins for companies. But our legacy of start-ups and spin outs could be better.

As a council we can take a lead in making this the entrepreneurial hub of NI. Project Kelvin and the Enterprise Zone can kick-start a revolution in the area and stem what seems to have been a downward spiral since the 1970’s.

This fund is only one small cog in the wheel that drives wealth creation. But I’d like the council officers to bring forward proposals for establishing, administering and marketing the fund. Hopefully this is a fund that can grow in capacity and stature in the years ahead.

In seeking to establish this fund I’d like to see us create a lasting legacy of businesses which can grow to be major employers in the future. In a country where there is such an over reliance on the public sector we need to help the entrepreneurs and the wealth generators.”

NOTICE OF MOTION:
The Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council has, as one of its Mission Statements, the aim of ‘Accelerating our economy and improving economic prosperity.’

This Council recognises the incredible entrepreneurial spirit of many people across the Borough who have established businesses which contribute towards the economic prosperity of the area.
In order to support a new generation of entrepreneurs we propose that Council establish an annual fund of £50k-£100k to support start-up businesses (including recent start-ups i.e. under two years). New business ventures should be novel and cause no job displacement. This fund is to be distributed in the form of grants on a biannual basis by a panel made up of councillors, council officers and business people.

Should councillors back the proposal, officers are requested to bring forward proposals for establishing, administering and marketing the fund with a target go live date to be in place for the new council year.

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