Ciara Dillon, BDO; Allyson English, Mullingar Chamber president, Katherine Byrne, BDO, and Aisling Coleman, Mullingar Chamber manager, at the Mullingar Chamber Funding and Finance event, part of the ‘Getting Down To Business’ series, last Thursday.

New funding and grants discussed at first ‘Getting Down to Business’ event

Representatives from more than 60 companies attended the first ‘Getting Down to Business’ event at the National Science Park, Dublin Road, Mullingar, last Thursday to hear what funding, finance and grants are available for new and established enterprises.

The event was the first in a series organised by Mullingar Chamber of Commerce, under the stewardship of its new president, Allyson English.

Speaking after the event, Allyson said she was delighted at the turnout and the mix of businesses from micro to medium to "some real big hitters". She hoped they had provided an equally good mix of speakers – "these people are here to help, if not now then in the future", she said.

Allyson English, president, Mullingar Chamber.

She said the Science Park was a "fantastic facility" and paid tribute to Jean Dempsey, manager, for her help in organising the event. A bouquet of flowers was presented to Ms Dempsey in appreciation.

John Geoghegan, Allyson’s predecessor, said: "This is a great event to have in the town because it gets people talking and listening."

His brother, Enda, of Lift Hire Ireland, said it was great to see what was on offer for small and medium sized businesses and to see so many present. "You have to admire the chamber for getting so many here on a Thursday morning," he remarked.

Tom Griffith, business development manager at Serchek Industrial Ireland, said that "a company that has great customers and masses of potential may have reached a ceiling of what it is capable of with the funding it has and may need to look for equity partners, a business angel, to take it to the next level. Events like this show them how to go about it".

Marcella Gaffney of Modern Labelling Systems (MLS) agreed it was great to learn what finance is available to move an established business such as theirs to the next level. A lot of companies would go to banks for funding, but it is interesting to see what other sources are there, she commented. MLS was established 36 years ago and is based at Mullingar Business Park.

Marie Manning of Manning Financial Management, Gaybrook, which opened in 2009, is a new member of Mullingar Chamber and this was her first event. "It’s good to meet people and get talking because often people in small businesses think the problems they have are theirs alone; at an event like this they realise it is not so," she said.

Martin Barrett, manager of the Bank of Ireland in Mullingar, also attended. He said events such as this were a great opportunity to talk to industries and businesses about what supports the bank can offer them.

Tea, coffee and an array of delicious confectioneries were provided by Aine Gavigan and Sabrina Burke of the award winning Uisneach Catering company, also a local business success story.

The aim of the event was to present experts to give information about funding, finance, grant aid and support that are there to help businesses grow. Attendees were invited to talk to any of these experts individually after the speeches and to put any queries they had to them.

The speakers were: Peter Burke, Minister of State for European Affairs and Defence, who gave a welcoming address; Irene Lynch from Local Enterprise Office Westmeath, Lorna Duffy from Microfinance Ireland, Shane O’Hanlon from InterTradeIreland, Katharine Byrne from BDO, Damian McMahon from Permanent TSB, Jason Mooney from Bank of Ireland, Cathy Moran from the Department of Social Protection, and Allyson English from Jigsaw Better Business.

Minister of State Peter Burke speaking at last week's event.