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Programme supports local business with a taste for growth

Mid Ulster micro/small businesses are being supported to drive their growth ambitions with the help of the Council’s Gearing for Growth Programme.  
The Programme is designed to provide one-to-one support in a range of key business areas to 250 growth-oriented micro and small businesses from across the Mid Ulster district to stimulate increases in sales and employment. The project is part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth and Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-20) Programme and Mid Ulster District Council. 
One business which recently completed the programme and is reaping the rewards is Gemma’s Cakes, a husband and wife team who specialise in creating and decorating exclusive wedding cakes, and run two other businesses offering a range of bespoke bakery products.
Gemma Overend (Owner) explains, “Our passion is creating bespoke wedding cakes that taste as good as they look and providing a personal and attentive service. When Covid hit, and weddings weren’t happening, we saw this as a chance to take stock and look at where we wanted to take the business and how to increase our growth potential.
“With help from our mentor on the Gearing for Growth Programme, we developed and optimised our online strategy, implemented a new pricing structure and set new future sales targets and plan how to achieve these.
“This support has helped me maximise my SEO, which in turn increased my customer reach by almost 10% and sales have increased by a third”.
Councillor Paul McLean, Chair of Mid Ulster District Council said:

I wish to congratulate Gemma’s Cakes on their successes from participating on the Mid Ulster Gearing for Growth Programme. The Covid-19 pandemic exerted considerable pressures on our local businesses. However, with the drive and determination of our business community and through Council’s business programmes such as ‘Gearing for Growth’, we have ensured support is available to help our local businesses build their resilience and work towards their future growth. I’m delighted to hear that over 550 Mid Ulster businesses are now receiving support from Council and I look forward to hearing more success stories over the next few months.

Ethna McNamee, Invest NI’s Western Regional Manager, said: “We’re pleased to be working in partnership with Mid Ulster District Council on another exciting programme that is supporting local businesses to drive sales success. The Gearing for Growth programme is a great opportunity for small and micro businesses to scale their growth ambitions through strategic support and mentoring, such as Gemma’s Cupcakes. I would encourage all small businesses in the Mid Ulster area to get involved.”
Patricia Elliott, Programme Manager at Workspace Enterprises said “We are delighted to be able to provide businesses with quality mentoring support at a time when it was greatly needed in our local business community.  Gemma’s cakes received support which was crucial to their growth and sustainability.  The mentor helped them to focus on their business’ current activities, set goals and plan for future growth. This has led to increased sales and customer engagement for the business.  It has been a pleasure to work with Gemma’s Cakes who have been very engaging on the programme.  Support on Gearing for Growth is tailored to the business’ needs and we are looking forward to working with many more companies across the Mid Ulster Region in the coming months.”
The Mid Ulster Gearing for Growth Programme still has some places available. If your business would like more information or help with applying, contact Patricia Elliott (Workspace Enterprises) by telephoning 028 79628113.

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