Cross border initiative ‘generates £15m in sales’

An EU funded cross-border business development programme, which generated over £15 million in new sales for firms in region has come to an end.

Last Friday (September 21) an event to celebrate the success of the initiative was held in the Four Seasons Hotel in Monaghan.

Established with £2.98 million injected from the EU’s cross-border promoting INTERREG IVA Programme, ‘Tradelinks 2’ was designed to assist and grow the micro enterprise sector across Northern Ireland and the border counties of Louth, Monaghan, Cavan, Leitrim, Sligo and Donegal.

The partnership initiative was delivered by Enterprise NI (the network of local enterprise agencies in Northern Ireland) and the border county enterprise boards in the south. It was also supported by both governments, through the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment and the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

Running from October 2009 to September 2012, the programme’s principal aim was to assist 550 micro businesses on both sides of the border to identify and address barriers to cross border trade and development – the programme actually supported 580 firms, created over 250 new jobs, and helped secure over 1,200 more jobs.

Through a combination of business mentoring, research and networking, the programme was focused on increasing skills, knowledge, access to information, new contacts and new forms of doing business. Particular emphasis was placed in developing cross border trade opportunities
and linkages.

Pat Colgan of the Special EU Programmes Body, said the programme was designed to help overcome many of the challenges faced by business owners.

“Particularly in today’s tough economic landscape, it has enhanced their competitiveness by providing the support and assistance they needed to grow and develop,” he said.