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Taste Causeway Seeks Council Support to Maintain Success

causeway coast community Jun 18, 2024
Taste Causeway

This evening, the Leisure and Development Committee of Causeway Coast & Glens Council received a presentation from board members Geri Martin and Sean McLaughlin of Taste Causeway.

They detailed Taste Causeway's achievements and requested additional funding to sustain their work.

What is Taste Causeway?

Taste Causeway is a network of 95 local producers, hospitality, retail, and experience providers, collectively representing around 1,450 employees. This initiative helps small businesses thrive through collaborative efforts like group buying, trade show participation, and tourism events.

Key Achievements

The network has achieved several milestones:

- Support Programmes: Since 2019, 12 companies have completed the Invest NI Capability Programme, 21 have achieved Invest NI client status, and 40 innovation vouchers have been awarded.
- Giant Taste Brand: Taste Causeway is the first network entrusted with the Giant Taste brand, boosting the region's tourism profile.

Funding Overview

Taste Causeway has secured funding from multiple sources:

Invest NI Collaborative Growth Programme: Provided essential support and training.
Council Funding (2017-2022): Supported projects, events, training, and marketing.
Other Contributions: Additional funding from Enterprise Causeway, Tourism NI, and DERA.

The board of Taste Causeway requested  £13k from Council towards core funding  and 10k rimgfenced for food and drink promotion and trade show attendance within current destination marketing budget to maintain operations and develop sustainable income sources.

Success Stories from Members

The presentation included personal success stories from network members:

The Chocolate Manor: Geri Martin shared how Taste Causeway helped her business grow from a home kitchen to an award-winning establishment.

Fullerton Arms: Sean McLaughlin highlighted the network's support in his diversification into experiential tourism.

Basalt Distillery: This start-up has expanded to export to six countries, thanks to collaborations and support offered through Taste Causeway network. 

Council's Response

The committee acknowledged Taste Causeway's achievements but raised some concerns:

Transparency: Councillor Wilson asked if the CIC submitted accounts and adhered to company statutory responsibilities, which was verified with an offer to circulate relevant documentation to Councillors in the committee.

Inclusivity: Questions arose about the network’s inclusivity of non-members and potential duplication of Council efforts.

Sustainability: The need for a long-term sustainable funding model was emphasised.

Moving Forward

The board of Taste Causeway assured the committee of their commitment to inclusivity and collaboration. They highlighted ongoing discussions with Tourism NI and other partners to secure additional support.

The Council will further deliberate on the funding request and review detailed reports to ensure the proposal aligns with broader economic and tourism goals.

The Council’s decision on the requested funding will be crucial for the network's continued success and growth.

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