New €300m Future Growth Loan Scheme unveiled for SMEs
Small businesses and local farmers are to be given fresh support for their strategic long-term investment plans, in a bid to cope with the UK’s departure from the European Union (EU).
The new Future Growth Loan Scheme will provide €300 million in funding for small firms and farmers, with the ability to apply for loan eligibility via the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland later this month.
The scheme will offer highly-competitive loans to eligible firms with up to 249 employees. Loans up to €249,999 will be available at interest rates of 4.5% or less and 3.5% or less for loans of €250,000 or more.
Eligible businesses and farmers are being encouraged to use the next few weeks to prepare their proposals for obtaining long-term capital investment which secures jobs and allows firms to look toward a brighter, more prosperous future.
Heather Humphreys, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, says that the uncertain economic relationship between Ireland and the UK makes it more important than ever for Irish SMEs to receive capital investment to drive diversification and innovation.
“Even if firms are unsure if they will draw down a loan, it’s a good idea to have approval in place in case it’s something they need down the line,” said Humphreys.
“Notwithstanding the uncertainty that comes with [the UK’s exit from the EU], it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
Michael Creed, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, welcomed the new scheme, insisting it was long overdue for ambitious farmers that lacked the levels of security of older, more established farms.
Creed confirmed the scheme would be focused firmly on small-scale farms that lack the leverage to secure highly-competitive rates of lending from high-street banks.
The group that represents the Irish food and drink sector, Food Drink Ireland (FDI), also labelled this a “welcome development”.
Paul Kelly, director, FDI, said the scheme will “make it more feasible for companies to invest in enabling technology, plant renewal and expansion, refinancing, market development and innovation”.