Business Support

Business SupportThere is a range of  support available to help businesses across the City and District.

The provision of Business Support within Armagh City and District Council comes under the remit of the Regeneration and Development Department.

If you are a new or existing business you will find out about the many programmes which you may be eligible for and how this support will assist you in growing your business.

Bright Idea
Aged 18-29? Have a Bright Idea? Want to start your own business?
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Bright Idea

STEM – Think Green, Be Lean

stem Green Biz 2013Green Biz 2013 is a one day cross border networking event packed with exhibitors, seminars and clinics all designed to help businesses think green, be lean and save money!

Whether you are interested in networking, showcasing your products or services, learning more about lean manufacturing, reducing your energy and waste bills, considering renewables or improving your tendering skills to help win more business, then Green-Biz 2013 is an event not to be missed! Entry to the event is FREE so sign up today!

We are delighted to announce the International Speaker, Broadcaster and BBC personality David Meade will be in attendance all day to deliver a number of informative talks on how businesses can influence the decisions made by their employees which will ultimately save them money! David has a keen interest in the environment and is looking forward to having the opportunity to network with the delegates and exhibitors on the day.

NI Small Business Loan Fund

The NI Small Business Loan Fund (NISBLF) will provide typically unsecured loans to individuals, private companies and social enterprises in the SME and micro enterprise size range, in the start-up and growth phases of development.

Loans to recipients will be in the range of £1k – £50k and may be high risk in nature, as traditional bank funding will not have been available or will have been fully exhausted.

To find out more and apply for a loan please visit

SEED Family Business Programme
  • Do you own/manage a family business?
  • Do you find it difficult to reach agreement on future strategy?
  • Have you clearly defined roles and responsibilities?
  • Do you want to be more successful and profitable?
  • Do you need to consider and plan for succession?

 If you have entered YES to the above, help is at hand….

Owners and Leaders of Micro Family Businesses are being offered a new business development programme which will help them become more sustainable and ultimately lead to business growth and enhanced profitability. Down District Council, in conjunction with Ards, Armagh, Banbridge, Craigavon, Newry & Mourne and North Down Councils have come together to launch the ‘Family Business Programme’.

Participating businesses will receive the following FREE support;

  • Attendance at a Family Business Conference
  • A business Audit by family business experts
  • Specialist one-to-one support available
  • Advice on balancing business logic and family loyalties

How to Apply

To be eligible for support, businesses must be located in one of the seven Council regions, and have been trading for more than 12 months – For more information, please contact Michelle Hawkins on 02830261010 or email Details also available on or

Brochure April 2014

Flyer April 2014

Application Form

STEM Project – offering local businesses the opportunity to boost profits & save money!

Is your business struggling with rising energy, waste and water costs? Would you like some assistance to identify up to £2,850 in savings across these bills? Does your business need an Environmental Management System? Then the STEM Project can help YOU!

Through a combination of onsite visits, mentoring and workshops, the STEM Project aims to help local businesses identify cost savings in some of the biggest overheads impacting on their bottom line – energy, waste and water. Businesses will also have the option to receive expert assistance and guidance to help them implement an environmental accreditation such as ISO 14001 or BS 8555.

Why sign up?

When you sign up to STEM you will receive support that will help your business save money, boost profits and win new business. The package of support includes:

  • Support to help identify savings in your energy, waste and water and be able to manage and control these.
  • Access up to 5 days site specific support.
  • Gain a certified Environmental Management System (EMS) ie. BS 8555 or ISO 14001 (optional)
  • Receive up to £500/€600 financial support towards the first year EMS audit costs
  • Be part of one of Ireland’s  largest networking forums
  • Avail of the networking opportunities to learn/share best practice, knowledge, skills and resources.
  • Access to opportunities for collaborative working either through joint tendering or purchasing of resources etc.
  • Access new markets and new business opportunities through our range of high quality networks
  • Access an online environmental forum via
  • Free attendance at STEM Project training seminars (such as internal audit training  – with many more to be planned)
  • Receive free exhibition spaces at any of our events.
  • Provide confidential guidance on environmental legislation and draft up a register specific to your business.

Programme Costs

The cost to participate on the programme is £200/€245 per annum. Members will receive up to 5 days site specific support to help them identify cost savings, a grant towards the audit costs for their EMS, free access to all networking events, conferences and exhibitions. It will also include training and access to an online web forum.

How to sign up?

Places to participate on the STEM Project area are limited and companies are urged to register quickly to avoid disappointment. To secure a place on the STEM Project, companies need to be a small to medium sized business (less than 250 employees and an annual turnover of less than €50m), located in one of our eligible areas and have an annual combined usage on energy, waste and water of £/€15,000.

Sign up today by logging onto or alternatively contact Anne or Barbara on the STEM Project to arrange a no obligation meeting, contact telephone number is 028 37 515810.

The STEM Project (Sustainable Together through Environmental Management) is part financed by the European Union’s INTERREG IVA Cross Border Programme managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.

Practical Support to small businesses seeking to grow sales outside NI

The SEED cluster of Councils is launching its “First Time Exporters Development Programme” across the 6 following council areas – Ards, Armagh, Banbridge, Craigavon, Down and Newry & Mourne.

If you own / manage a Micro business (10 employees or less) in any of these council areas and wish to explore REAL business opportunities in markets outside NI in the Republic of Ireland, GB or further afield – you should read on.

The Programme involves a series of export development workshops, one to one mentoring support and tailored support to help you to get in front of potential customers for your business in markets outside Northern Ireland. In short, this programme is all about helping business people to move from talking about selling their products / services outside NI to actually doing it.

The Programme will be delivered by Full Circle Management Solutions and is funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland and the six SEED Councils.

To register your interest and for further information on the Programme, contact Claire Grant of Full Circle Management Solutions, Tel:  028 9069 1027 or Email:

How to get your share of €20/£16 Billion Public Procurement Market
SEED Public Procurement Programme

The SEED Public Procurement Programme is for micro businesses based in Armagh City & District Council, Ards Borough Council, Banbridge District Council, Craigavon Borough Council, Down District Council and Newry & Mourne District Council.

The programme aims to support participant companies in developing the skills and knowledge required to compete for public sector work through the process of tendering. Our research team has identified current and future public sector tender opportunities which could be relevant to businesses in the SEED Council areas.

Through the Programme you will be guided and supported in the development of high quality tender submissions for these opportunities which should in turn, improve your chances of success in the public sector market.

The programme will commence in April 2013. The programme includes:

  • 6 Tendering Skills Development Workshops.
  • One-to-One Procurement Audit undertaken by a procurement specialist.
  • One-to-One Tender Submission Support.
  • Tender Road Map Development Support.
  • Tender Prospecting Support.
  • A Minimum of 6 Prospect Meetings Set Up.
  • Meet the Buyer Event.

Who should participate?

To be eligible you must be:

  • An owner/senior manager of a private sector business or a social economy business
  • Based in one of the participating SEED Council areas.
  • A micro business (businesses with less than 10 employees)


We are recruiting 6 micro businesses from each of the 6 council areas, to participate on the programme. If you are interested and wish to hear more or would like an application form, please contact:

Elaine Scullion, Envision Management Consultants
Telephone: 028 9045 2777

My Creative Edge

Are you working or seeking to work in the creative sector? Sign up to now for free and have your work showcased and marketed for free to new markets.

Achieving Finance Programme

Towards Business Growth!

The Achieving Finance Programme is an exciting new initiative designed to assist 100 SME’s (20 in each Council region) to look at the financial position of the businesses and examine what opportunities exist for them. It will run for 18 months and will involve a series of Masterclasses, one to one mentoring and meet the investor panels that help each SME to identify and address their financial needs.

Who is the Programme for?

The programme is open to all businesses in the Councils of Craigavon Armagh, Banbridge, Newry & Mourne and Down who are prepared to commit the time of the owner or significant manager (as long as they can make strategic decisions within the business) to examine their financial position and make decisions on their finance related to their business objectives.

What is the time commitment?

Each Programme will run for 18 months. Prior to Christmas 2012 each business is required to attend 3 Masterclasses. Between January 2013 and September 2014 you will then have access to 3 full days one to one mentoring with financial and industry experts. The mentoring will involve face to face meetings as well as follow up report development/ market research etc, remote support through our online private consultancy support, emails etc. You will also have the opportunity to get involved in “Meet the Investor” events where you can pitch your business for investment from private investment, INI and/or the banks.

Who is managing the Programme?

The programme will be delivered by Lestas Consulting Ltd. We are a Management Development Company who has worked with Northern Ireland SME’s for over a decade to implement practical new business systems, develop associate relationships, draw down financial support and examine new markets. We bring with us a team of finance and investor experts whose experience ranges from developing procurement systems for new markets to applying for investment through a number of local and EU funding mechanisms.

How much will it cost?

The programme is part financed by the five Councils, Invest Northern Ireland and part financed by the European Regional Development Fund under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland!”. Your participant contribution is only £100 + Vat which is less than 5% of the actual programme cost for each participant.

Programme Benefits

A Series of Collective Master Classes delivered across the Council areas

Finance and Business experts assigned to mentor you for 3 days, on an individual basis, at a time and place convenient to you.

Development and implementation of an individual ‘Finance Investment Plan’ to present at bespoke “Meet the Investor” events.

Opportunities to get a better understanding of your financial position and what public and private funds are available through a series of 3 Masterclasses.

Access to Investors including Invest NI, Equity Finance & the Banks,  who will advise and assist you during the programme.

Access to other SME’s and relevant case studies to help you develop and implement your plans

Receive an Endorsed Award from the Institute of Leadership and Management on successful completion of the programme.

What Next?

 To be considered for a place on the programme, simply complete the brief Expression of Interest Form and email to:

Business Support and Growth Programme

This project is about creating business cultures within Armagh City and District Council area, strengthening the aspects of good forward business planning. The Council recognizes the need to create a knowledge based, innovative and business friendly region which has a coherent and co-ordinated approach to business and enterprise.

This project will contribute to a vibrant private sector offering entrepreneurship opportunities to the existing and emerging business community.

The Council also recognize that entrepreneurial activity is not just about business creation but  about sustaining and growing business especially in these difficult economic times. Through the provision of networking events and working in partnership to expand and develop further those networks which are already establishing within the region, this project will add value and bring new, innovative approaches to boost Armagh’s competitiveness and create better business development opportunities for our business sectors.

Furthermore, this programme is not intended to be stand-alone. It has various cross cutting themes:
• promoting networking opportunities
• promoting jobs and business creation in the region through promotion of the Enterprise Centres and the services they offer
• promoting sustainable businesses via direct mentoring to companies who plan to survive and grow, hence retaining jobs and in time providing new employment


SEED is an informal association of Councils in the South East Region formed for the purpose of collaborating in projects that address common local economic development needs, which could be more effectively met on a sub-regional basis. The initial Partnership was influenced by ad hoc collaborative work carried out by Councils under the 1997-2000 LED Programme which culminated in a study examining the merits of working together to achieve economies of scale and critical mass of participants on Business Development related initiatives. Councils formulated their individual Local Economic Development action plans to access ERDF monies and under guidance from DETI will continue to work in the delivery of collaborative projects across the whole SEED region.

Members of SEED

  • Ards Borough Council
  • Armagh City and District Council
  • Banbridge District Council
  • Craigavon Borough Council
  • Down District Council
  • Newry and Mourne District Council
  • North Down Borough Council
SOAR [Southern Organisation for Action in Rural areas] is the Joint Committee and Local Action Group for the Armagh, Craigavon and Newry & Mourne Council areas.

We are responsible for the administration of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 (NIRDP) within the rural areas of Armagh, Craigavon and Newry. The NIRDP is part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and is managed by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Contact Details
SOAR Rural Development
Armagh City and District Council
The Palace Demesne
BT60 4EL
Tel: 028 3752 9618
Fax: 028 3752 9601

Contact Details
Regeneration & Development Department
Armagh City and District Council
The Palace Demesne
BT60 4EL
Tel: 028 3752 9642
Fax: 028 3752 9631