Rural development programme creates 200 jobs
A rural development programme aimed at boosting employment and business opportunities has helped create over 200 new jobs, it has been announced. The Southern Organisation for Action in Rural areas (SOAR) has helped create the new positions through more than 260 projects funded by the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 throughout the former Armagh, Craigavon and Newry and Mourne Council areas.
With the final projects completed recently, the programme demonstrates the benefits which can be enjoyed through public/private initiatives. Over £16.7 million was invested through the programme, which was part-funded by DARD and the EU and matched by more than £7 million from the project recipients.
The programme covered rural diversification and business development/creation through to tourism and village renewal. The range of projects supported varied from restaurant development at ‘Sinton’s At The Bridge’ in Scarva, which created 30 jobs, to business development at Crilly’s Sweets in Newry (10 jobs).
Reflecting on the success of the scheme, Councillor Joe Nelson, Joint Committee Chairman, said:
“The job creation has been excellent, with the new jobs offering a real opportunity to grow our rural economy and make Northern Ireland a more prosperous place to live and invest. The strategic development of rural areas is vital and European funding through the NI Rural development programme offers an important vehicle for helping to combat rural isolation as well as improving economic competitiveness for our rural economy.
“It has been a fantastic journey through the initiative since 2007, with so many of the projects coming to completion in recent months. I am delighted to see the difference this support project has made right across the region from individuals in business to entire communities benefitting from better local amenities.”
Joint owner and manager of Sinton’s at the Bridge, Mrs Julianne Morton, commented:
“We were extremely grateful to SOAR for supporting our project to build a new restaurant in Scarva. The financial support from SOAR ensured we delivered our project earlier than would have been otherwise possible.”
A full list of the supported projects is available to view at soarni.org.