While the closing date for receipt of applications to the Town and Village Renewal Scheme has passed for this year, plan now for the next round of funding. Community-based websites qualify, as Cootehill has proven.
A new community and business orientated website for a small town, believed to be the first of its kind, was launched recently by Minister Heather Humphreys.
Cootehill.ie includes a community hub showcasing clubs, groups and initiatives in the area and telling the history of Cootehill. It also provides an online marketplace for local business owners to sell their products directly from the site. The site currently features 50 businesses on its online high street and 32 community groups.
The website’s high-quality, interactive content was developed as part of a Smart Communities Initiative championed by Cootehill Chamber of Commerce and funded by Cavan County Council and the Department of Rural and Community Development under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme 2020.
The website “seeks to be an exemplar project” and an example of a digitally enabled community.
“The goal was to create a website to represent and promote all things good about Cootehill and act as a focal point for local initiatives which we think we have accomplished with the help of eTownz,” said those behind the project.
Website Does Cavan Proud
Chairperson of Cavan County Council, Cllr. Sarah O’Reilly (pictured above) welcomed the launch of “a digital gateway to this vibrant, bright, dynamic, connected community.”
She congratulated Cootehill Chamber of Commerice on “their vision”, saying: “Cavan and Cootehill are among the first communities in Ireland to embrace the new EU directives on ‘Connecting Rural Businesses through Technology’ and all of us are very proud.”
Cavan County Council provided over €4,000 towards funding the initiative, alongside the Department’s larger grant.
Online portals for towns & villages
Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys said it was “a wonderful concept and shows great vision and leadership by Cootehill Chamber of Commerce”.
“I am very pleased to be associated with this initiative under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme. My Department provided just over €37,000 for the project (and) it strikes me that many more towns and villages should and will follow your lead in developing an online portal for your community.”
“It is important to equip local businesses with the tools they need to develop a web presence quickly to increase revenue. For the past year, we’ve been rolling out the importance of getting that online web presence. This website will increase footfall for Cootehill businesses. These kind of initiatives are now more important than ever as we begin to move beyond the pandemic and repair our economy.”
Noting that any business or organisation on Cootehill’s site can sell through the site, she said: “I understand this is the first for any town in Ireland. You should be very proud.”
Town & Village Renewal Scheme
“The Town and Village Renewal Scheme is one of the most popular schemes under my Department. It is designed to rejuvenate small rural towns and villages, to make them more attractive places to live, work, raise a family and do business and socialise,” she said.
“It very much takes a bottom up approach. You come up with the ideas, you make the submissions and my Department, in conjunction with the local authority, ensures you get the funding to make it happen. That’s what’s happened in Cootehill.”
She detailed the spending and the number of projects supported:
“Since 2018, under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme, over €62million has been invested in 890 projects in every single county.
“When I became Minister I decided to enhance the scheme and last year saw total funding of €25m (spent on the scheme) including an additional €10 million provided under the Government’s stimulus measures tailored to address the challenges from Covid-19 and to reflect that communities across the country need to be supported to get back on their feet.”
Rural Regeneration & Dev’t Fund
Minister also highlighted other schemes under which groups can work with their local authority to apply for – in particular the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund which is for targeted large-scale investment. It aims to drive economic and social progress and sustainalble development in rural areas.
Web designer Pat Kennedy of eTownz (pictured speaking above on Zoom) said, “Uniquely, each club or business runs their own profile page, with prices and services displayed. Now people in Cootehill can sell 24/7, worldwide.”
“We have lots of ideas on what next for the site and we’re asking people what they think. The site is built around being collaborative. It will be curated to ensure quality while also inviting people to submit news and content,” he added.
Plan ahead for town & villages scheme grants
While the closing date for receipt of applications to the Town and Village Renewal Scheme has passed for this year (today, July 16th) plan now for the next round of funding.
For more info, see the dedicated page on the Department’s website, via: https://bit.ly/TVRSinfo