Northern Ireland's entrepreneurs to receive support programme

Entrepreneurs and start-ups in Northern Ireland are to receive a new support programme to get their business ideas off the ground; Northern Ireland's enterprise minister Arlene Foster has announced.

The Regional Start Initiative aims to support the development of up to 5,000 businesses over the next two years by providing advisory and training support.

"This is a demanding target but one that is essential if we are to support the rebuilding of our economy and the creation of new jobs," Arlene Foster said.

Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this month revealed that Northern Ireland's economy is continuing to weaken. Output in services and production in the country declined in the second quarter of 2012, while unemployment also continues to rise.

Invest Northern Ireland, part of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment tasked with growing the local economy, intends to have the service in operation by October 2012.

Elsewhere, Invest Northern Ireland is working in partnership with six local councils in Northern Ireland to deliver a programme of events providing assistance to small firms in need of finance.

Small businesses operating in the Council areas of Antrim, Carrickfergus, Ballymena, Coleraine, Larne and Moyle wanting to grow their business are invited to the events to find out about the finance options available.

Follow on events will also involve a range of skills development workshops and one-to-one mentoring support.

More information and the dates of the events can be found on Invest Northern Ireland's website.