The first call for applications for the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund closed at the end of September. €1 billion is committed to the Fund over a 10 year period to support rural economic development and help build strong communities.
There was an excellent response to the first call, with nearly 300 applications received. Applications for the Fund are currently being examined by the Project Advisory Board, made up of representatives from key Government Departments and external experts, which was established to oversee the assessment process. Category 1 "shovel ready" projects were prioritised in the assessment process and Category 2 projects - those which need development funding to become potential Category 1 applications in future calls - are currently being considered.
I announced the first set of successful Category 1 projects for funding on the 23rd November 2018 and I can confirm that two projects in County Sligo received funding. Sligo County Council received €500,000 to develop a "Yeats Tourist Trail" covering 15 locations across County Sligo and €615,752 to develop a National Centre of Excellence for surfing in Strandhill, County Sligo.
The announcement on the 23rd November was just the beginning of the process and I will make further announcements of successful Category 1 and Category 2 projects early in 2019 with a further call for the Fund taking place later in the year.