Minister Humphreys launches €5m initiative to support Rural Economic Development
The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys, T.D., has today (Wednesday) announced details of a new phase of the REDZ initiative to stimulate economic development in rural towns and their hinterlands.
A total of €5 million will be made available under the 2016 Rural Economic Development Zones (REDZ) initiative, building on the success of a 2015 pilot scheme which saw €3.8 million being provided to projects across Ireland.
Launching the new phase of the scheme at the National Ploughing Championships, Minister Humphreys said:
“As the economy recovers, the Government is determined to ensure that the benefits of this recovery are felt in every community across Ireland. If we are to support the people who want to live and work in rural Ireland, we need to harness the human and natural capital that is available in and around rural towns, to create economic opportunity and support job creation.
“The REDZ approach supports better links between rural towns and their hinterlands to generate economic opportunity at a local level. The scheme will help to create and maintain jobs in rural Ireland. Building on the pilot which was launched in 2015, I am making a further €5 million available this year for REDZ projects. I have increased the level of funding available, in particular to encourage ambitious flagship projects which will help generate sustainable economic development and job creation in rural areas.
“I am encouraging Local Authorities to work with local communities, business interests and other State bodies, to identify areas of greatest economic need which can make better use of their local assets to generate economic activity. This is all about empowering local communities to provide local residents with local opportunities. Under the 2016 scheme, every county in the country will receive approval for at least one REDZ project.
“This scheme will complement the €10 million Town and Village Renewal Scheme, which I launched in August. Both schemes will help to ensure that rural areas have strong economic and social centres that in turn support a higher quality of life for both town dwellers and those who live in the rural hinterlands into the future.”
The 2016 REDZ scheme will provide up to 80% financial support for proposed projects, with the balance of costs to be provided from other sources (e.g. Local Authorities, business interests or community-based funding).
Notes for Editors:
The 2016 REDZ initiative is part of the Government’s programme for Rural Development. Other initiatives recently introduced by Government as part of this programme include the new Town and Village Renewal Scheme (€10 million allocation for 2016), the allocation of €4.5 million to support rural recreation infrastructure, and the establishment of a National Taskforce to identify practical measures which can be taken in the short-term to improve Broadband and Mobile Phone Coverage in rural areas.
Rural Economic Development Zones (REDZ)
Rural Economic Development Zones (REDZ) are functional, rather than administrative geographic, areas that reflect the spatial patterns of local economic activities and development processes. They are, in effect, the sub-county zones within which most people live and work. Research supporting the 2014 report of the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA) identified potential Rural Economic Development Zones in all areas of Ireland and recommended the implementation of a pilot initiative to support a localised approach to the development of REDZ.
The central objective of the REDZ model is to utilise the synergies and interdependencies between rural towns and their hinterlands to generate economic activity in the local area. The involvement of local communities, including the business community, is a key element in the REDZ model.
The 2016 REDZ scheme will provide funding for projects of differing scale and ambition that share the mutual objective of supporting economic development in rural areas, with a particular focus on maximising the synergies between towns and their hinterlands and encouraging collaboration between Local Authorities on larger projects. The funding will cover:
– 3 major Flagship projects – 1 in each region* to a max grant of €400,000 per project.
– 9 Medium scale projects – 3 in each region* to a max grant of €200,000 per project. No county will be approved for more than one Medium REDZ project.
– 1 or 2 small REDZ projects – 1 or 2 in each remaining county to a maximum grant of €100,000 to each County.
* Based on the three Regional Assembly regions: Northern and Western region, Midlands and Eastern region Southern region.
Funding will cover up to 80% of the total cost of each project. The balance of funding is expected to be met from local sources (Local Authority, private sector or community-based funding).
Each Local Authority will be invited to be associated with one Flagship REDZ project in their region. Each Local Authority will also be invited to apply for 1 Medium-sized projects at regional level and/or 1 or 2 Small REDZ projects at county level. While the REDZs are not defined by county administrative boundaries, every county in the country will receive approval for at least one REDZ project.
The size of the associated urban centre will not be a factor when determining funding allocations for REDZ 2016 (i.e. the scale of the projects outlined above relate to the level of impact and ambition, rather than the size of the urban centre in the REDZ area).
Full details of the scheme will issue to Local Authorities within the next week.
What types of activities can be funded?
The following is an indicative list of the type of proposals that can be funded. It will be a matter for Local Authorities, in collaboration with local communities and business interests, to identify projects that can contribute to generating economic activity in the REDZ areas:
- Maximisation of local assets, including culture and heritage assets to support economic activity.
- Development of tourism assets in rural hinterlands.
- Creation or strengthening of the supply chain in the REDZ region, between producers, retailers and consumers.
- Pilot eCommerce initiatives.
- Resource efficiency/Circular Economy projects.