One of the great crucifying factors and anti-business measures plaguing Castleisland in this still harsh, rural economic climate, is the levying of punitive rates by Kerry County Council.
A group of us from the Patrick O’Keeffe Traditional Music Festival collect vital, local subscriptions each year in the run-up to the October bank holiday weekend event.
And, in fairness, the business people of the area never fail to put their shoulders to the wheel when it’s most needed.
One of the constant fears – and it is a fear and a worry – is the annual rates bill which lands in on top of them and on top of all the other expenses associated with running street-side businesses today.
There are people who simply packed it in under the pressures and the results are clearly visible in the amount of premises closed down in this and so many other towns around rural Ireland today.
Now the authority which imposes these punitive rates, Kerry County Council, is taking a look at Tralee and plans to provide incentives which it hopes will eliminate or reduce the town’s vacant properties problem and stimulate the re-growth of business in the target areas.
And while it is all about Tralee and there’s no mention of Castleisland or any other town – for that matter – it would seem like a God-send and a blueprint for the regeneration of Castleisland’s once thriving Main Street and lingering ‘Market Town’ image.
I did ask and it won’t happen anytime soon – if at all.
The Business Incentive Scheme Plan for Tralee
The council’s grant based Business Incentive Scheme is designed to encourage both landlords and new or aspiring business owners or leasers to occupy vacant premises by offering a grant towards the level of rates payable on the property.
The scheme, which will be in place up to the end of 2020, will be available to existing businesses, those relocating or expanding from outside the county and existing businesses maintaining their current location and expanding into a new location.
Town Centre Growth
Mayor of Tralee, Cllr Graham Spring, welcomed the initiative as a further stimulus to economic growth in the town centre.
“Kerry County Council has already led significant improvements in Tralee through the Urban Regeneration Development Fund and improvements to the public realm in the Mall and Denny Street areas.
Live and Work in Town
“This initiative encourages more people to live and work in the town core, to bring vacant properties both at ground and upper floor levels back into productive use, and to generate a vibrancy in the town centre as a location for economic and social activities.
“Management and elected councillors are aware of the challenges facing businesses especially town centre retail, in particular through competition from online shopping. The purpose of this Business Incentive Scheme is to incentivise both landlords and new business owners to occupy vacant premises through a grant to offset commercial rates costs.
Occupation of Vacant Premises
“By encouraging the occupation of vacant premises, the council will also support the improvement in appearance and attraction of the commercial properties and thereby contribute indirectly to increased footfall for existing businesses,” said Cllr Spring.
Council Chief Executive, Moira Murrell welcomed the new scheme as a pilot initiative: “This scheme is part of the council’s wider approach towards the rejuvenation of Tralee and stems from analysis such as the Tralee Town Health Check report. It follows the €40m investment in the regeneration of the town core and complements the development of the Island of Geese and the Tralee Local Area Plan.”
Generate New Vibrancy
Tralee Municipal District Manager, Mike Scannell said the scheme would assist in job creation and in sustaining employment in the town.
“It will also improve and diversify the commercial offering in Tralee Town Centre and generate new vibrancy. It will build on recent and planned Town Centre public realm enhancements and on the existing range of recent initiatives with agencies including Enterprise Ireland, the IDA as well as IT Tralee, representative groups including Tralee Chamber Alliance and property owners in the town.”
More information and application details are available from firstname.lastname@example.org or the Economic Development Unit of Kerry County Council.
The Breakdown of Incentives
The following is the breakdown of the grant payable to the successful applicant over the three years.
Year One: Grant payable equivalent to 75% of rate paid for subject year.
Year Two: Grant payable equivalent to 50% of rate paid for subject year
Year Three: Grant payable equivalent to 25% of rate paid for subject year
Further supports are available through the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) as follows:
• Confidential one to one advice.
• Participation on a Start Your Own Business Course.
• Training and mentor support in areas such as marketing and social media marketing,
• Assistance with preparing an application for Microfinance Ireland if relevant,
• Financial Assistance towards trading online via the Trading Online Voucher Scheme,
This scheme will be available up to and including 31 December 2020.
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