A SCHEME which sees Limerick City Council pay up to half of a new businesses’s start-up costs has been extended to cover the whole city.
The local authority became the first local authority in the country to provide grant relief up to a maximum of 50% of the rates liability on new shops.
The scheme, designed to attract new traders into the city centre, was only open to those wishing to open in O’Connell Street, Roches Street, Thomas Street and Catherine Street.
But in a bid to secure more retailers in the city, the geographical area has been widened to take in the whole city centre.
And as well as retailers, the council will also provide grant relief to office-based businesses looking to open in the urban area.
The extension was voted through by councillors at last week’s council meeting.
Paul Foley, of the enterprise department at the council, said the new boundaries will stretch “from Steamboat Quay to John’s Square, and Parnell Street to the river”.
“In widening the geographical area, we will provide incentives for applicants who might like to establish a business,” he said.
However, he said the scheme will not cover shops moving to new areas in a bid to take advantage of grant relief.
Mayor Gerry McLoughlin said he hopes the extension of the scheme will “act as a catalyst for new business and retail for Limerick city centre.”
“It sends the message out very strongly that we welcome and embrace new business in Limerick city,” he added.
Overall, the scheme provides for grant aid worth up to 50% of rates outlay in the first year for qualifying applicants and worth up to 25% of rates outlay in the second year subject to matching expenditure in fit out costs in properties that have been vacant for more than a month.
Chairman of the economic committee, Cllr Diarmuid Scully added: “This is a unique scheme that certainly presents opportunities for somebody who may wish to open a business or a shop in Limerick city.”
Economic development director Tom Enright stressed the grant is dependent on the amount of spend incurred on fit out costs. They may roll the scheme out into the county, he added.
“It will help to get people started. We are in the process also of looking at piloting the scheme in a number of towns in County Limerick as well” he explained.
He said staff in the council’s economic department are always available to listen to applications. They can be contacted at 061 407269 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.