Significant interest in Restart Grant and LEO supports under Project ACT.

Businesses across County Cork have been seeking support in record numbers as they plan their future after the COVID-19 emergency. A series of incentives have been offered by Cork County Council as part of Project ACT, an initiative to support businesses and communities in every town and village.

1,300 businesses have made an online application for the Restart Grant, which is a form of direct grant aid to micro- and small-businesses to help them with the costs associated with re-opening and re-employing workers.

Between €2,000 and €10,000 of direct aid is available to businesses, based on commercial rates bill from 2019.

The grant will be available to businesses with a turnover of less than €5m and employing 50 people or less, which were closed or impacted by at least a 25% reduction in turnover out to June 30, 2020. It is a contribution towards the cost of re-opening or keeping a business operational and re-connecting with employees and customers.

Separately, 750 companies applied for Business Continuity Vouchers through the Local Enterprise Offices in South Cork and Cork North and West. Businesses employing up to 50 staff are eligible to apply for a Business Continuity Voucher to the value of €2,500 towards third party consultancy costs to assist with developing short-term and long-term strategies to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was also an unprecedented demand for Trading Online Vouchers, which help businesses establish an online marketplace. Over 300 applications were made, and a request for funding to meet further demand has been made.

Both LEO South Cork and LEO Cork North and West will host a series of webinars in the weeks ahead, covering topics of relevance to businesses affected by the pandemic. This will include the new health and safety requirement to ensure businesses can re-open safely, and stay open.

Sharon Corcoran, Director of Service Economic Development, Enterprise and Tourism says: “Businesses have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and have suffered greatly as a result. In response, Cork County Council has been working to support them in whatever way it can, through direct activity in towns and financial support through the LEOs. What we have witnessed is a huge demand from small businesses to get going again, and to reinvent themselves to reflect the new trading environment. Thanks to this new energy from the business community, the Local Enterprise Office has never been busier. Many applications have been approved, and we are working diligently through the others as quickly as possible. Small businesses are the engine of our entire economy – our message to them is that we are here to support them now, and well into the future.”

The LEO’s regular suite of training programmes remains available, and has been in a position to meet further demand since moving to exclusively online delivery in late March.

Details on all supports from Cork County Council through Project ACT are available here;

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