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Minister Humphreys Announces Major Expansion of SME Supports

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys T.D., has announced a major expansion of supports for all businesses impacted by COVID 19.

Many of the measures are designed to help businesses start selling online.  The package is now worth €1bn in liquidity measures including a €180m Sustaining Enterprise Fund for firms in the manufacturing and international services sectors. Free mentoring and online training are also available for all SMEs.

An additional €450m of lending will be provided through the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) for SMEs in all sectors including agri-food. This will provide liquidity for firms and bring total SBCI COVID 19 lending capacity up to €650m with loans available through the pillar banks.

A €2,500 Business Continuity Voucher, available through Local Enterprise Offices, is designed for businesses across every sector that employ up to 50 people. The voucher can be used by companies to develop short-term and long-term strategies to respond to the COVID 19 pandemic.

The supports also include an additional €30m for microenterprises through the 31 Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) comprising additional funding for Microfinance Ireland and Trading Online Grants for those businesses that are in a position to do business online while complying with the public health guidelines.

For retail businesses with over 10 employees, a €2m COVID 19 Retail Online Scheme is available through Enterprise Ireland.

The Minister also announced two further supports to assist companies planning for the future: a Business Financial Planning Grant from Enterprise Ireland to the value of €5,000 to assist companies to develop a Business Sustainment Plan and to engage the services of an approved Financial Consultant, and a €2,500 LEAN Business Improvement Grant from Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland to help companies quickly access expertise to review and optimise operations at a time of crisis and identify the key measures needed to ensure continued viability.

Government will continue to explore funding potential at EU level including through the European Regional Development Fund.

Minister Humphreys said: “This package is a significant step-up in the supports available for all businesses in all sectors at this very difficult time. The measures have been developed to meet the varying needs of Irish enterprise and they are very specifically targeted by size, sector and need.

“The impact of COVID 19 presents unprecedented difficulties for businesses who have already spent the past three years preparing for the possible consequences of Brexit, but those preparations will stand to us.

“I want to reiterate to firms that we will continue to use all available tools at our disposal to support them and keep money flowing through the economy in the difficult months ahead.”

For more information on the schemes, visit the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation website.

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