THE demise of the “corner shop” has forced the Balearic government into offering cash incentives to attract small retailers back to towns and villages with a population of under 40.000 people. Balearic Minister for Trade and Industry, Josep Juan Cardona, presented the initiative yesterday adding that his department has increased its budget for subsidies by 133 percent for this year. Over recent years, many small towns and villages have stood by as local shops have either re-located to more populated areas or closed completely due to lack of trade, leaving residents with few local commercial amenities and having to travel in order to shop.

The maximum grant any one small business can apply for is 24.000 euros while industry can apply for a maximum of 140.00 euros for modernisation projects. Josep Juan Cardona said that applications are welcome now as he hopes to have studied all the proposals before the start of the summer recess so that small business projects are not held up by red tape. The Minister also revealed that small, family hotel enterprises are also entitled to regional government aid, especially with regards to promotion and publicity. Looking at the global picture, Josep Juan Cardona said that, over the course of this year, the government wants to help give the region's small business sector, from jewellers to software producers, a complete make-over to make it more modern, competitive and boost exports. He explained that the aims are twofold. While helping to consolidate the small business sector, the government also wants to diversify the region's economy which is still 80 percent dependent on the tourism sector. As with the tourist industry, the local business and industrial sector is being encouraged, and assisted, in improving quality and design of its products and government grants are also being made available for product investigation and development.