An initiative to help people in East Antrim interested in starting a business to develop their ideas is to be launched by Invest NI as part of its response to the region’s economic problems.

The ‘Fresh Start’ initiative, which will be delivered during January, is targeted at people who wish to turn their skills or training into self-employment or a new enterprise but need practical help in developing a viable business idea. It is a pilot initiative within the East Antrim area.

Around 17 employees at Premier Power in Larne attended the first Invest NI presentation on ‘Fresh Start’, which was held at the power station on Friday 15th November. The presentation followed other recent information sessions on Invest NI’s business start-up services held at AVX and Insilco, both based in Larne.

‘Fresh Start’ is funded by Invest NI and will be delivered by LEDCOM, the enterprise agency in Larne. Francis Henderson Associates, a Ballymena-based consultancy, will provide expert guidance on self-employment to participants.

Speaking during the presentation, Graham Davis, Director of Invest NI’s Local Office Network, said: “This is one of a range of activities being developed following the East Antrim Jobs Forum on October 10 and subsequent discussions with local councils and existing enterprise bodies in the area.

“One of this areas greatest assets is a pool of skilled and highly trained workers with experience across a broad range of industries from sophisticated electronic assembly to light engineering. ‘Fresh Start’ is designed to harness this expertise and encourage many more people in the area to think about starting a business.

“The initiative will help participants to identify a new business idea and also prepare them to take the next step in implementing this by participation in our existing schemes which aim to equip people with the knowledge and skills needed to run a small company,” he added.

The East Antrim ‘Fresh Start’ has been structured to guide participants through the initial stages of business start from the identification of a business idea through the essential research to test viability and if there is a market for the proposed product or service.

Opportunities will also be provided for participants to gain firsthand experience from meeting established entrepreneurs in the area.