In light of the ongoing COVID-19 challenge, Sligo County Council is actively engaging with local business owners to facilitate the placing of tables and chairs outside premises such as cafes, restaurants and bars.
A license is required for the placing of any street furniture on public property, and to facilitate this initiative, no license fees will be sought for any such application (normally €125 per table).
Prospective applicants are advised to contact the planning section of Sligo County Council for advice on the process prior to applying.
It is important to ensure that any such apparatus does not interfere with the movements of pedestrians and other vulnerable road users, particularly in light of current physical distancing requirements.
This is one of several initiatives which the council is taking and is to the forefront in delivering as the country gets to grips with the Covid-19 pandemic which so far has seen 149 cases in the county since March.
Sligo County Council is responding to the challenge presented by Covid by coordinating a range of positive measures to boost commercial activity and renew the shopping experience in Sligo. With the opening of a transformed O'Connell Street, the roll out of re-start grants for local businesses, the implementation of a waiver scheme for rate payers, a coordinated effort is being made to assist local enterprise with a range of important supports in the critical months ahead.
The main design ethos of the new look O'Connell Street was to create an improved pedestrian zone by enhancing the quality and attractiveness of the urban environment, creating an interconnected metropolitan space that will facilitate commercial and residential opportunities for the undeveloped and underutilised sites in the O'Connell Street area.
The Sligo Local Enterprise Office (LEO) is the first-stop-shop for those entrepreneurs starting a small business or expanding an existing one. It provides an integrated support service focusing on the needs of small businesses from the Council's offices in City Hall.
Covid-19 has changed radically the way in which the services of the LEO are now delivered, from face to face interaction with clients to online delivery. The type of services being delivered were also extended to assist businesses deal with the new challenges posed by Covid-19. Online training on safely reopening food, hair/beauty and retail businesses, delivering professional services online, managing remote working and other topics aimed at assisting compliance with Covid-19 guidelines were introduced.
The process of applying for and being approved grant aid, aimed primarily at businesses in the manufacturing and internationally traded sectors, moved fully online. Despite the huge hit to businesses, the Office has continued to receive (and approve) applications for grant aid, many of them adding jobs.
John Reilly, Head of Enterprise reflected on the huge progress that was in train in Sligo pre-Covid, from significant infrastructure projects, many involving Sligo County Council, to job announcements, funding announcements, flagship projects such as the National Mountain Biking Centre, the new Surfing Centre of Excellence in Strandhill, the many fine walkways completed in recent times and others planned.
"Progress such as I have outlined and the many projects I have mentioned may have slowed down but most of it can be resumed.
"The infrastructure and other groundwork is continuing to be laid to further enhance Sligo's growing reputation as a positive, visitor friendly and technologically advancing destination."
The Heritage Council recently awarded €200,000 to a heritage-led regeneration initiative in the town.
The Heritage Office of Sligo County Council in partnership with Sligo BID, the property owners and the local community were awarded €200,000 under the Historic Towns Initiative 2020.
The award is being further supported with €50,000 in funding from Sligo County Council as well as private investment from property owners.
The Restart Grant provides direct grant aid to micro and small businesses with the costs associated with reopening and re employing workers following COVID-19 closures.
Eligible businesses who have stayed open throughout the crisis, as well as those who re-opened under Phase 1 (from 18 May) and Phase 2 (8 June) of the Government's Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business were eligible to apply for the Restart Grant.
A Temporary COVID-19 Mobility Plan for Sligo town centre will improve physical distancing for pedestrians on the busier town core centre streets during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plan was prepared by Sligo County Council having consulted with Sligo BID Business Members and other various stakeholders, including consideration of representations made on behalf of vulnerable road users and cyclists.
The plan is a 'living document' and will be subject to review over the coming weeks and months ahead, as Government and HSE advice on social distancing is updated.
Sligo Tourism's 'Digital Marketing' initiative aims to grow the number of overseas visitors to the region, as well as the amount of money tourists spend in the county.
Key elements of the campaign include the development of visitor experiences and packages which will focus on the off-season and shoulder months of the tourism calendar, which traditionally stretch from October to March.
Sligo Tourism will collaborate with a number local tourism networks while running the campaign, including Adventure Sligo, Sligo Food Trail, Sligo Walks, and South and West Sligo Tourism.
This is just a snapshot of the many initiatives instigated or supported by Sligo County Council and its partner agencies as Sligo 'gets back to business.'