€17 million in grant aid for private & community based micro businesses & SME in Ballinasloe municipal district area
Ballinasloe-based Senator, Aisling Dolan, welcomed opening of €17 million fund for applications under the EU Just Transition fund for Midland and Western counties and regions
Senator Aisling Dolan stated
“This is welcome funding including the specific region of East Galway under the Ballinasloe Municipal District area. This investment will promote tourism and recreational activity and can bring jobs to our towns and villages with community groups, micro-buinesses and SMEs eligible for funding.
“Today Fáilte Ireland launched an open call for Expressions of Interest under the Regenerative Tourism and Placemaking Scheme. This is the first call under a wider €68 million Just Transition fund to Fáilte Ireland to support employment in this region. Co-funded by government and EU to support communities impacted by change.
“Places including Mountbellew, Glenamaddy, Ballymoe, Creggs, Williamstown, Clonberne, Kilkerrin Caltra, Ahascragh, Fohenagh, Castleblakeney, Cappataggle, New Inn, Kilconnell, Clontuskert & Lawrencetown are all are within the Ballinasloe Municipal District area and communities and businesses in these areas will be eligible to apply.
Senator Aisling Dolan noted
“Part of the overall funding is the commitment of a Tourism and Business Activator role, this person based with Galway County Council working with the Local Enterprise Office and Tourism office will support groups to apply for funding to these programmes.”
“As the Ballinasloe MD is the only eligible region within County Galway for funding under the Just Transition Fund, I strongly believe this role has to be located within municipal district office in Ballinasloe town and I’ve raised this point in Seanad Éireann with Minister Catherine Martin and engaged with our new Chief Executive in Galway County Council Liam Conneally on this matter. Close proximity to volunteer community groups and businsses in the Ballinasloe region will be crucial to winning funding under this programme. We need a person in the local area who can hit the ground running working with groups to bring more investment. This role will be advertised shortly and applications will be welcome.”
Senator Aisling Dolan continued
“There are 5 specific project categories eligible for funding.
“1. Sustainable visitor experiences. This includes heritage, culture, nature as well as outdoor activities, recreational amenities using our waterways as well with the River Suck. It could mean stand-out features or amenities for walkways and cycleways through our bogland areas, we already have a great example in Galway’s Living Bog in Carrownagcappul bog in Mountbellew.
“2. Low carbon small scale tourist accommodation could be a way to deliver much needed options for accommodation and bed nights in towns across our region especially larger towns such as Mountbellew & Glenamaddy. With people being able to stay in the region longer and enjoy the local area, it will deliver spin-offs for the locality. Vacant heritage buildings could also be repurposed.
“3. Capital Project Planning & Design – could include more large-scale plans such as parks in the region”
“4. Digital Transformation – again to support tourism businesses, hotels, restaurants, cafés, gastropubs, tourism amenities to support popular online bookings, or to increase visibility through websites, search engines, booking sites”
“5. Accessibility enhancements – anyone with a disability or a mobility issue will be happy to see this included. We are seeing lots of strides in the are of inclusive places and this funding could help with more disabled toilets, changing places toilets, wider entrances to manage wheelchairs, wheelchair accessible paths, car parking spaces for wheelchair accessible buses”
“The regenerative part will focus on low carbon activities and businesses – to show how we can reach net zero emissions as well as promoting biodiversity and supporting local communities. All community groups and businesses will be measuring carbon footprints.
“Micro investment grants of €10,000 and under will be 100% grant-aided as well as projects on Digital Transformation. Larger projects will be grant-aided at 80%.”
“I would encourage community groups with ideas and micro- enterprises and SMEs in tourism & recreational areas to plan projects under this fund which could bring a real boost to the local area. If you have a project or an idea, now is the time to submit an Expression of Interest to Fáilte Ireland”