LEADER is an EU funded programme to support activities to improve the quality of life in rural areas and to diversify the rural economy. The programme has been delivered in a number of different stages since 1991 and in its current incarnation as part of the Rural Development Programme it is delivered by a network of 35 Local Development Companies throughout Ireland.
Today LEADER exists as part of the Rural Development Programme and the supports on offer from Local Development Companies delivering the programme range from advice, training, mentoring and support to develop a business plan to the allocation of capital funding.
The programme supports seven measures to improve the quality of rural life and the rural economy which include:
- Assisting farmers to diversify into non-agricultural activities
- Support for the creation and development of micro-enterprises
- Support for tourism activities
- Provision of basic services for the rural economy and population
- Village renewal and enhancement
- Support for conservation and upgrading of rural heritage
- Training to develop skills and build the capacity of local communities to develop local strategies.
Since the start of the current programme over €87 million has been invested into the rural economy to support a range of projects under these seven measures. Over 3,320 enterprises had received LEADER assistance by the end of 2011 and 1,246 full time jobs had also been created.