Building Your Business
Network Cluster for Growth-oriented Small Businesses in Newry, Mourne and Down

6 January 2017

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council who became a formal partner in the PLATO EBR Network in September 2016, are currently recruiting for a local cluster of approximately 20 small businesses. Businesses in the District and adjoining border areas are encouraged to register their interest in the Eastern and Border region of the licensed PLATO network. It is anticipated the Northern Ireland Network group will commence in April/May for 12-months - breaking for the summer months.


PLATO EBR companies tend to be micro- and/or small businesses interested in growing their business and learning from larger companies who have grown their company within the region. These larger, ‘parent’ companies are leaders in their industry sectors, and support the programme by sharing their skills and experience within the network. There will be two senior executives or the owner/manager of the larger company, at each meeting. In the past, Parent companies have included for example Brian McConville of MJM Marine, Michael Farrell of PKF-FPM, John Mellon of Nitronica, Michelle Fitzpatrick of FM Environmental, Micheal McKeown of CRASH, Hastings Group, Glen Dimplex and many more. The meetings will take place monthly and will follow a structured programme (agreed at the outset with participants) focused on the challenges to growth for small companies in the region. The network will provide a sounding board and a support forum for entrepreneurs working out on their own facing similar challenges to business development. The network is centred on a peer to peer learning environment with the regional agencies rowing in behind the network to offer additional supports.


Funded through Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council and the Local Enterprises Offices and County Councils in Cavan, Louth, Meath and Monaghan, the Northern Ireland Strategic Alliance Programme will bring the number to six PLATO EBR groups of 15-20 companies operation within the Region, North and South. Dr Cecilia Hegarty, Director of PLATO EBR, encouraged businesses to invest in their management and leadership skills through a customised programme underpinned by peer to peer learning. The PLATO model encourages small business owner managers to grow their business by developing their own capability.


Some past participants of the PLATO network have since grown their business and are now in a position to act as Parent Companies, sharing their knowledge and experience of the growth trajectory. For instance, Mr Eamonn Fitzpatrick of FM Environmental has spoken about his experience as a past PLATO participant and the benefits of participation. He stated that for him “PLATO was a forum to take stock of the business, a place where busy owner / managers can focus on the future direction and strategy of the business and get perspective from other business owners. It offers practical solutions and real opportunities for business development and is a stepping stone to opening doors into new markets. PLATO is a well-known and established support model, a ‘club’ where business owner / managers recognise that no matter how long they have been in business they can always learn, innovate and spot new opportunities. FM Environmental participated on PLATO over ten years ago and it has maintained many of the business linkages and relationships developed through the programme. Those who participate on PLATO want to see their fellow members succeed in their business. There is a collective will to exchange experience and expertise and offer assistance. Without doubt our company has benefitted from participating on PLATO. My experience of PLATO has been nothing but positive. As such we are delighted to be able to give back to the programme and act as a group facilitator for PLATO EBR. I would encourage each of you to seriously consider PLATO EBR as a means to developing and growing your business.


If you are interested, please complete the Form below. If you would like to contact the Office directly for more information on Tel: +353 (0) 47 71818 or email

Plato EBR EOI Form NMD 2017

  • Cavan
  • Louth
  • Meath
  • Monaghon