Cobh is to examine a new grant scheme for start-up businesses after it was revealed that 40% of commercial properties in the town are empty.
Labour town councillor John Mulvihill has proposed grants for new businesses that would effectively wipe out the cost of commercial rates in the first year of trading.
The council is also to set up a committee of experts from the local banking sector, estate agents and the town council to provide advice to potential start up businesses.
Cllr Mulvihill said: “The average rates bill in Cobh is in the region of €1,500. This might not seem much but it could mean the difference between opening and closing. With this in mind I am proposing a business start-up grant scheme.”
Guidelines of the scheme include:
To qualify, a premises must be closed but available for lease or sale for a period no less than two years.
A rate-payer pays the rates in full and then applies for a grant.
The scheme dos not cover situations where a business is closed and then reopened by a person connected with the owner.
The grant can be drawn down once the first year’s rates are paid.
The grant payable to the start-up business would the 100% of the rates payable in year one; in year two 75%, then 50% in year three and 25% in year four.
Cllr Mulvihill said it was also important to get expert advice to budding entrepreneurs.
He said a committee of experienced people could help with practical advice and information.
“There are individuals living in Cobh who have experience in setting up business, who know the pitfalls and opportunities,” he said.
The new committee would also:
Identify business who have been successful in the tourist industry and try to attract them to Cobh.
Identify premises that for the business being proposed from a financial and suitability perspective.
Review the working of the grant scheme and bring recommendations to the council where necessary.