MEA is Super Connected City

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Mid and East Antrim businesses can apply for vouchers of up to £3000 to fund ultrafast broadband under the new Super Connected Cities Scheme.

The UK-wide initiative is designed to expand access to ultrafast broadband by offering vouchers worth up to £3000 to businesses, social enterprises and charities to invest in equipment and infrastructure.

The aim is to support local economic development and promote new inward investment opportunities.

At a meeting on June 15, MEA Borough Council’s Economic Growth and Development Committee heard that the council’s application to the scheme, which was expanded to include an additional 50 cities in a further £40m rollout this April, had been successful.

Chief Executive of MEA Borough Council Anne Donaghy told councillors she was “delighted” that the borough is now a super-connected city.

“We need to get involved very quickly to avail of this,” she stated.

“Any business, urban or rural, community or social enterprise or charitable, will be eligible to apply.”

“This is a real opportunity to improve broadband supply in the area and help businesses.”

A report presented to the committee recommended launching a marketing campaign immediately to raise awareness and stimulate demand for the 250 vouchers by the end of March 2016, “before the budget is depleted.”

Councillor Gordon Lyons stated: “Can we especially look at rural areas and ensure people are aware that the scheme is available for rural businesses where many people have broadband problems.”

Councillor Mark McKinty commented: “Ultrafast broadband is of massive importance. We want to be an area which businesses are coming into to invest. It’s really important that we have this in our strategy.”

Councillors voted to actively promote the opportunity to the SME sector, to launch a marketing campaign and for an officer to be appointed to the regional steering group.