Mandatory Pre-Application Funding Workshops

Southern Organisation for Action in Rural areas (SOAR) will be hosting a number of pre-application funding workshops for applicants intending to apply for the Rural Business Investment Scheme. The workshops will give an introduction to the scheme, details on eligibility criteria, advice on the application pre-requisites e.g. planning permission and business plan, how to complete the registration and application process, as well as procurement procedures.

Councillor Joe Nelson, Chairperson of SOAR in the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough said, “We have been awarded £8.02 million of funding from the Rural Development Programme which is part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. This funding will be used to deliver rural development where it is needed at a local level. The first call is focused on the Rural Business Investment Scheme and offers the opportunity for both businesses and social economy enterprises the prospect of support. The LAG is delighted to invite prospective applicants to attend the workshops and welcomes the potential for them to make a real difference to the economy.”

Elaine Cullen, Programme Manager of SOAR for Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon said, “There is a wide range of support for new and existing businesses, with a strong emphasis on job creation.

“We have carefully selected a variety of venues and times for workshops to provide as much choice as possible for those who wish to attend. We have aimed the workshops at businesses and social enterprises who are investment ready and whose projects will be starting in 2016. To decide if you are investment ready please check the Investment Ready Tool Kit on the SOAR website or call 028 3831 3614.”

Workshops will provide essential information to applicants on the pre-requisites needed to support their application, namely having a business plan, match funding, planning permission if needed and quotations to support project costs. We would encourage those attending the workshops to have a clear idea of their proposed project in advance of attending.

Attendance at one of the workshops is a MANDATORY part of the application process – only those who attend will be invited to submit a formal application under a closed call.
Pre-registration for a workshop is essential as numbers at each workshop is limited.
Workshops must be attended by a representative that has authority to sign on behalf of the organisation – e.g. Business Owner or Company Director- you cannot send someone on your behalf.

A place can be reserved on one of the workshops by booking on the SOAR website or contacting Rebecca Hyland by email: or telephone 028 3831 3614.
Spaces at each workshop will be allocated on a first come first serve basis, so it is recommended that you register early to avoid disappointment.

Information Sessions Update

SOAR (ABC) has completed three very successful information sessions on the Rural Development Programme for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council area.

Approximately two hundred and fifty five people attended the meetings in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon which aimed to clarify the type of funding available from SOAR (ABC) and support services which are available.

The sessions focused on four funding measures, these included Business Investment, Village Renewal, Rural Basic Services and Rural Broadband.

Additional help was also offered by the support services in attendance which included the Planning Department, Local Enterprise Agencies, Business Engagement Programme based in the Council as well as the Social Economy Hub and First Trust Bank.

The presentation which was given on the night is now available to download.

Information Sessions

The Southern Organisation for Action in Rural areas Armagh Banbridge Craigavon (SOAR ABC) Local Action Group (LAG) has been tasked by DARD to deliver Priority 6 of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Plan 2014-2020 in the rural areas of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council (ABC) area.

An extensive consultation process was undertaken between October and December 2015, with public consultation sessions in Ardmore, Bleary, Dromore, Keady, Rathfriland and Markethill as well as targeted consultation with Section 75 groups, statutory bodies and other relevant organisations, businesses, DARD target groups and the LAG.

The LAG has now submitted an interim Rural Development Strategy 2015-2017 to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for £8.02 million of Rural Development Programme funding for the area. This money will be used to support the rural economy and improve the quality of life of those people that work and live throughout the area. 

Through the strategy SOAR (ABC) aims to contribute to the regeneration and development of the rural areas by supporting new and existing rural business, supporting farm diversification businesses, regenerating villages, and ensuring the continued provision of public, private and community services in rural communities, in a manner which is inclusive, sustainable and equitable.

Interim Chairperson of the SOAR (ABC) Local Action Group, Councillor Joe Nelson, remarked “This funding represents a real opportunity to develop our vibrant rural communities, create jobs and bring much needed investment. This funding will help make a real difference to the lives of rural residents throughout the area and encourage an innovative approach to the delivery of rural services”

Grants will be available under the following measures;

  1. Business Investment Scheme
  2. Rural Basic Services
  3. Village Renewal
  4. Rural Broadband

Programme Manager Elaine Cullen added “This funding will enable new and existing rural businesses to flourish as well as supporting innovative community projects designed to enhance village renewal and basic services.  The information sessions will provide an opportunity to find out more about the programme and speak with our staff about potential projects”.

(SOAR ABC) will be holding three information sessions throughout Armagh City Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council area on the availability of funding.

Information sessions will be held in the following locations:

  • 27th January 2016, 7.30pm The Market Place Theatre, Armagh
  • 2nd February 2016, 7.30pm Old Town Hall, Banbridge
  • 4th February, 7.30 The Civic Centre, Craigavon

If you would like further details, please contact SOAR ABC Officers on:

  • Civic Centre, Craigavon – 028 3831 2573
  • The Palace, Armagh – 028 3752 9618
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