OVER fifty business people gathered in the Sheraton Hotel, Athlone last Thursday evening to attend the first chamber event of 2012, “How to Score in 2012 – New Funding Opportunities for your Business.”
The event organised by the Midlands Gateway and Athlone Chambers was a unique opportunity for local businesses to hear first hand how the Hodson Bay Hotel started through the old BES investment scheme and all the pitfalls and opportunities such investment schemes have to offer.
The event highlighted new funding opportunites available for businesses, in particular the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector, despite the difficult economic landscape.
Attendees received practical information on new ways to raise money for their business expansion, focusing on the Employment Incentive Investment Scheme (EIIS).
Joanne O’Connor, Branch Manager AIB Bank, Athlone spoke about the different ways AIB can support local businesses.
Ms O’Connor explained how AIB are helping businesses gain access to credit, “AIB are committed to the Government Approved Lending Plan of €3.5bn for Irish SME’s in 2012, we have developed a new standard ‘SME Application Form’ with Bank of Ireland and expect other banks to also adopt this standard.”
oanne further said, “We have increased our Seed Capital Funding from €53m to €75m and introduced an AIB Job Creation Fund.”
Joanne closed by saying that AIB locally will continue to work hard to support small business and she encouraged customers to keep engaging with their bank.
Martin Nally, founder of Lir Investors a locally based Business Angels Syndicate explained that Lir Investors has ‘strong funding facilities whose purpose is to encourage entrepreneurs to establish, expand or diversify strong growth potential businesses’.
Lir Investors offer support for ‘investor ready’ businesses seeking to base or grow in the midlands. Mr. Nally explained, “We are also interested in hearing from companies already started which have high growth potential beyond our shores”.
John Lyons, Tax Partner at the Longford office of RSM Farrell Grant Sparks spoke about the “41% Tax Savings Announced for SME Investors”, the Employment Incentive Investment Scheme (EIIS). John explained how the scheme gives income tax relief to a qualifying individual who subscribes for eligible shares in a qualifying company for the purpose of carrying on relevant trading activities or incurring R&D expenditure where trading has not started and contributing to the creation or maintenance of employment.
John continued, “Struggling businesses have been thrown a lifeline by this new scheme, which is designed to be flexible and easy to operate and most trading businesses qualify for it. It offers substantial tax relief to investors. We act for a large number of clients across the SME sector, restriction of bank and trade credit is a significant challenge for these businesses. They need all the help they can get and this scheme will assist them in raising additional equity”. For more information about the scheme please contact John Lyons, 043 3341900 or e-mail John.Lyons@rsmfgs.ie
John O’Sullivan owner of the Hodson Bay Group spoke about his experience of the old BES scheme when, in his late 20s, after buying the old Hodson Bay Hotel, he needed to raise funds. He felt the BES was a positive experience but very complicated to operate and believes that the new EIIS is a lot simplier for business.
The night finished off on a lighter note with Roddy Collins, International Football Manager, speaking about his journey from starting out as a football player to where he is today and what makes a football club successful.