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This Italian region will pay you €24,000 to set up a business there

The region of Molise, one of Italy's smallest, plans to introduce a grant for people who open businesses in its least populated towns and villages.

This Italian region will pay you €24,000 to set up a business there
Villages like Cerro al Volturno in Molise have seen their population shrink. Photo: DepositPhotos

Dubbed the reddito di residenza attiva or 'active residency allowance', the stipend could be worth around €700 a month for up to three years, or €24,000 in total.

There are just two conditions: applicants must agree to run a business – any business – for at least five years, and they have to do it somewhere with under 2,000 inhabitants.

FOR MEMBERS: Here's how to apply for €24,000 to run a business in Molise


Photo: DepositPhotos

That leaves plenty of choice. Of 136 comune in Molise, Italy's second smallest region by both population and size, more than 100 have fewer than 2,000 people living in them and six have fewer than 200, according to national statistic office Istat.

The scheme, to be launched this month, is designed to combat depopulation, a chronic problem throughout rural Italy and especially in poorer southern regions.

“We're targeting the many people from Molise who live elsewhere and plan to come back home, but also non-Molisans who'd like a change of lifestyle and to enjoy the tranquility and healthiness of our wonderful region,” said Antonio Tedeschi, the regional councillor responsible for the idea.

The region has set aside nearly €1 million to fund the scheme over 2019-20, he said.

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Applications will open via the region's website on September 16th and remain open for 60 days. Candidates must commit to transferring their residence to Molise, getting a VAT number and running their business for at least five years – that's two years after they stop receiving the stipend – or face paying back the grant.

Many parts of rural Italy have experimented with incentives to attract new residents, from the well-known '€1 houses' schemes to tax breaks for retirees bringing foreign pensions with them.

But while many such offers attract people looking for holiday homes or a place to retire, the 'active residency allowance' aims to create longer-term benefits for locals by improving the services and employment opportunities available to them.

READ ALSO: Seven reasons Molise (yes, Molise) is Italy's best kept secret


Castel San Vincenzo in Molise. Photo: DepositPhotos

Not everyone has welcomed the initiative, however: local blog Forche Caudine called it superficial and open to abuse, arguing that it would reward incomers prepared to game the system rather than the residents who have been toughing it out in shrinking villages for years.

“Why pay someone to come and live in Filignano, for instance, a town that over a century has gone from 6,500 residents to barely 600 today? What kind of business could they set up?,” the site wrote, calling for an “overall vision” for Molise rather than “spot solutions” for individual towns.

Please note: The Local cannot help you apply for this scheme. 

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BUSINESS

EU finds Italy’s Alitalia loans ‘illegal’ but airline free to keep money

The EU's antitrust authorities ruled Friday that Italy's 900 million euro loans to long-struggling airline Alitalia were "illegal", but cleared the country's new carrier to get state funding and avoid paying back the money. 

Ahmad AL-RUBAYE / AFP
Ahmad AL-RUBAYE / AFP

“Following our in-depth investigation, we reached the conclusion that two public loans worth EUR 900 million granted by Italy to Alitalia gave the company an unfair advantage over its competitors, in breach of EU State aid rules,” said EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

“They must now be recovered by Italy from Alitalia to help restore a level playing field in the European aviation industry.”

But the authorities in Brussels simultaneously said new flag airline ITA – set to start flying next month – was not liable to reimburse the money and that 1.35 billion euros being injected into the firm by Rome did not breach state aid rules.

“Italy has demonstrated that there is a clear break between Alitalia and the new airline ITA, and that its investment in ITA is in line with terms that a private investor would have accepted,” Vestager said.

“Once ITA takes off, it is for Italy and ITA’s management to make use of this opportunity once and for all. And we will continue to do our part to ensure fair competition in the European aviation sector.”

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Loss-making Alitalia was placed under state administration in 2017 but Italy has struggled to find an investor to take it over. The situation was only exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic that grounded airlines worldwide.

The Italian government gave the company two loans for the amount of EUR 600 million and EUR 300 million in 2017, as Alitalia scrambled for liquidity without access to the debt market.

Earlier this year Italy said it had reached an agreement with the European Union for a bailout that creates a new debt-free company to take over some of Alitalia’s assets – ITA.

The board of directors of ITA last month approved a binding offer for 52 of Alitalia’s aircraft, related airport slots and other assets.

The Italian government has created a 100-million-euro ($117-million) fund to reimburse Alitalia customers.

Italy provided state loans to Alitalia totalling 1.3 billion euros between 2017 and 2019.

In July, it approved another 700 million euros for ITA.

Further sums are expected in 2022 and 2023, bringing the total to 1.35 billion euros.

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