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Mid & East Antrim Council to support entrepreneurs for a year

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Cllr Peter Johnston, Mayor of Mid & East Antrim Council along with (from left), Eileen McCourt (Cadies Closet), Lea Vaughan, (Forest Fitness NI), Marianne Breen, (Brix2U) and Tracey Campbell (MEA Business Engagement Officer).

Budding entrepreneurs in Mid and East Antrim are to be given support by the council through 12 months’ trading at three pop-up shops across the borough.

The council’s Borough Growth Committee has agreed to facilitate a year’s retailing through a ‘pop-up’ shop in Larne, Carrickfergus and Ballymena.

The decision was reached as part of the council’s Town Centre Recovery programme post-Covid and is the fifth year that the council has supported the provision of ‘pop-up’ shops which have involved 35 participants.

The council says that as well as encouraging entrepreneurship, these are an “innovative way to utilise vacant premises within the town centre”.

The local authority has agreed to match fund £27,000 funding provided by the Department for Communities through a Covid-19 Recovery Revitalisation Programme.

A report to the council’s Borough Growth Committee said: “With town centre recovery a key priority for council, the pop-up shops offer an opportunity to provide affordable workspace that will support local entrepreneurs and assist business growth.”

The initiative is expected to involve leasing and fitting out three vacant town centre premises.

Commenting on the initiative on social media, Mid and East Antrim Mayor Councillor Peter Johnston said: “Very pleased to have proposed that council run a permanent pop-up shop in each of our town centres for one year.

“Really pleased that council is stepping up and utilising currently vacant properties in our high street to help start-ups get their feet on the ground.”

Last September, the council offered would-be retailers the opportunity to participate in a ‘pop-up’ shop in the run-up to Christmas.

The participants enjoyed the benefits of being part of the ‘Start Up Retail Programme’ which provides the skills to develop their idea and the opportunity to sell their products.

Two previous participants have opened their own shops – Mrs Bubbles at Riverdale in Larne and The Secret Bookshelf, at The Courtyard in Carrickfergus.

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