A new scheme to incentivise start-up businesses in County Cork is to be voted on shortly by county councillors.
The three-year scheme would provide a staggered cut to commercial rates for businesses which open up in vacant units and has already received approval from members of the council’s Economic Special Purposes Committee (SPC).
The scheme was first mooted by Fine Gael councillor Sinead Sheppard some months ago and was referred to the Economic SPC for refinement.
Ms Sheppard said that the new business would pay full rates in first year, but get a 100% rebate.
In year two, that rebate is cut to 50% and in year three to 25%.
To qualify for this scheme, a business must open in a premises that is closed but has been available for lease or sale for a period of no less than one year. A ratepayer pays the rates in full and then applies for a grant.
The scheme does not cover situations where a business is closed and then reopens by a person connected with the owner with the intention of seeking a rate rebate.
The grant can be drawn down once the first year’s rates are paid and roll on into year-three.
Ms Sheppard said the scheme “would provide crucial support to keep the business viable during its most important time”.
More than half of new businesses fail within 12 months of starting and, in many cases, it is because they can’t afford to pay the rates bill.
“Local government support is an imperative for small- to medium-size business to survive and grow,” said Ms Sheppard. “It was for this reason that I had put down a motion a number of months ago for Cork County Council to establish a new three-year staged rates system.
“This scheme received cross-party support at full council but was referred to Economic SPC for further discussion and I am happy to report it has received unanimous support as SPC level from elected members and outside bodies.”
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