Councils Launch Free Digital Growth Programme for Small Businesses

Wednesday 8th January 2020

Ards and North Down Borough Council has joined forces with Newry, Mourne and Down District Council to launch a Digital Growth Programme to support the development of micro and small businesses in the regions.

Two Councils join forces to create Digital Growth Programme

This project is part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth & Jobs Northern Ireland (2014 - 2020) Programme.

The new programme aims to assist the growth of local businesses by helping them learn new skills and develop confidence in using digital platforms and technologies. The initiative will include Digital Growth Workshops giving helpful insights into a wide range of areas including social media marketing, mobile marketing, search engine optimisation, Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising and virtual reality, augmented reality and the internet of things which will help accelerate business growth and job creation. Included in the program will be one-to-one mentoring support (to a minimum of 260 businesses) and 'digital masterclass' events with industry experts, helping businesses understand and implement the latest in digital.

Mayor of Ards and North Down Borough Council, Alderman Bill Keery, said: “We are committed to investing in initiatives to help accelerate the growth of local businesses. Digital technologies are being used in most, if not all sectors and it has never been more critical for businesses to embrace the platforms available to them. Through this programme, we look forward to providing local micro and small businesses with access to specialist support. This will help increase their knowledge and skills of the digital industry with the purpose of driving their business forward.”

Councillor Charlie Casey, Chairperson of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, said: “The digital economy is an important driver for innovation, competitiveness and growth for the local economy. With an experienced team of digital experts, participating businesses will benefit from interventions, networking, mentoring and workshops, all designed to support both councils' aims to help businesses grow and ultimately strengthen its digital economy.”

Mark Bleakney, Invest NI’s Southern Regional Manager, commented: “In the last 10 years, digital transformation has had a powerful influence on how we do business and keeping up with this rapidly changing environment is fundamental in today’s business world. To help businesses here foster a digital culture, we are delighted to support the Digital Growth Programme. This Programme will provide businesses in both the Ards and North Down Borough Council area and the Newry, Mourne and Down District Council area with one-on-one mentoring support as well as the essential digital skills to help them remain competitive.”

To be eligible to apply, your business must be located in either the Ards and North Down Borough Council or Newry Mourne and Down District Council areas, employ fewer than 50 employees and be actively trading.

To apply for the Digital Growth Programme or for further information, visit