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Press Release for Immediate Release – 10th June 2020

Funding boost for Trading Online Vouchers in County Carlow welcomed by the Local Enterprise Office

Carlow County Council’s Local Enterprise Office has welcomed the announcement this week by Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD and Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Richard Bruton TD of a major expansion of the Trading Online Voucher Scheme to help small and micro enterprises in County Carlow get online quickly.

The national Scheme is being expanded by €14.2m after the 31 Local Enterprise Offices received 3 years’ worth of applications in 3 months following the outbreak of COVID-19 in Ireland. Following a previous expansion of the Scheme in early April, total additional funding for the Scheme is now almost €20m in 2020.
The Local Enterprise Office has received over 80 applications – from local businesses for the Trading Online Voucher scheme over the last three months. It is expected that the funding boost will enable even more local businesses to benefit over the coming months.

Small businesses can claim up to €5,000 in two grants worth €2,500 each. The Scheme also facilitates subscriptions to low-cost online retailing platform solutions to quickly establish a retailing presence online.

Minister Humphreys said: “There has been unprecedented demand for the Trading Online Voucher Scheme since the outbreak of COVID-19. To put this into perspective, in 2019, there were 1,218 applications for the Scheme; this year, between mid-March and early-June alone, there were 3,962, representing three years’ worth of applications in less than three months. The Scheme is an essential part of our Covid-19 business supports for small businesses, and it is vital that we continue to make it available for enterprises to meet the ongoing trading challenges. Thousands of small businesses across the country have already benefitted from funding under the scheme. The additional funding which we are announcing today will mean that total funding for the scheme has been increased by almost 1000%.”

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Richard Bruton TD, said: “Now more than ever enterprises are relying on their online capabilities to interact with their customers. With this additional funding we will be able to provide approximately 7,700 vouchers this year to small businesses, compared to 1,200 last year. This funding will provide crucial support in these very challenging times. It will also ensure that enterprises are building the capacity now which will see them well positioned to take advantage of the digital transformation into the future, as more and more consumers take their business online.”

Welcoming the announcement, Kieran Comerford , Head of Enterprise with Local Enterprise Office (Carlow) said: “We have received a record number of applications for the Trading Online Voucher scheme here in County Carlow some of which we are still processing due to unprecedented demand. This additional funding will enable even more local businesses to transform digitally, through accepting payments or bookings online, by offering training for customers remotely or by developing new apps for clients or employees. We’re seeing lots of examples from around the county of small businesses starting to sell online for the first time, during the Covid-19 crisis. While they may have had a website presence before, thanks to the funding and training under the Trading Online Voucher, they have been able to upgrade their websites and can now sell directly to customers all over the world.”

Speaking about the scheme , Kathleen Holohan , Chief Executive with Carlow County Council said “over the past few months many business sectors in our local communities have been affected by Covid-19” , the Chief Executive continued to say “we know that SMEs can provide an opportunity for the people of County Carlow to shop local online providing a 24/7 service for the people of County Carlow and further afield to do business with them and the Trading Online Voucher Scheme supports this opportunity”. Concluding Holohan said “I would like to thank the Team in the Local Enterprise Office for their continued efforts in supporting the business community and in particular Aine Carey , LEO Graduate who operates the Trading Online Voucher Scheme for County Carlow”.

Welcoming the announcement of funding , Cllr. Tom O’Neill newly elected Cathaoirleach of Carlow County Council said “I very much welcome this funding provided to Carlow County Council to support our business community in promoting and trading online” , the Cathaoirleach continued by saying “we as elected members are committed to supporting our business community with the challenges they face in the coming months and schemes like the Trading Online Voucher Scheme and the Restart Grant are just some of the financial supports we currently have available and I’d encourage any member of the business community to reach out to your Local Enterprise Office who are there to support you in whatever way possible”.

The Trading Online Voucher Scheme is open to small businesses in most sectors that have been trading for at least six months, employ up to ten people with a turnover of less than €2 million annually. Further information about the Trading Online Voucher, including eligibility criteria, is available from www.LocalEnterprise.ie/Carlow