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Growth boosts for rural businesses

Hop Farm Festival 2012 | Photo by Gaelle Beri

Hop Farm Festival 2012 | Photo by Gaelle Beri

Rural businesses across the country looking to expand will be able to benefit from new funding worth over £8 million which will help unlock the huge potential for growth in the countryside, Farming Minister George Eustice announced today.

From rural events such as Latitude festival to farms shops, a range of rural businesses looking to expand and promote tourism in the region are encouraged to apply for the grants which are open today. This new funding will provide a real boost for the rural economy in communities across the country.

With farms the fastest growing tourist attraction in 2014, this news presents an important opportunity for dairy farmers looking to diversify their business and encourage tourism to farms across the country, as well as the potential to expand milk and cheese processing units.

The new grants build on last month’s announcement by the Chancellor and the Environment Secretary on the Government’s first ever Rural Productivity Plan which will boost productivity and ensure the countryside becomes an even more attractive place for people to live, work, start a business and bring up a family.

Farming Minister George Eustice said:

“From regional festivals to visitor farms, this new funding is set to give rural businesses a real boost by supporting projects that promote tourism, bring high-quality jobs to rural areas, and grow the local economy.

With a further £8 million available, existing or new rural entrepreneurs have the chance to unleash their full potential and I strongly encourage businesses from across the country to apply for the new funding.”

Grants also available under the scheme can help people expand and develop new food processing facilities. Individual grants are worth upwards of £35,000 depending on the individual project and will now be offered in another 11 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas. The programme is a competitive process and funding will be directly targeted at initiatives that will bring the biggest benefit for those local areas.

You can find more information on the grants here. A further round of funding has begun this month so that rural businesses in additional LEP areas are able to apply for grants to help them support their local rural communities.

Locally, Hertfordshire LEP’s allocation of European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), is now open to grant applications from micro and small businesses in Hertfordshire’s rural areas.

Grants of over £35,000 are available to firms of less than 50 employees in officially designated rural areas. Small and micro businesses in or near small towns including Buntingford; Braughing; Much Hadam; Radlett; Bovingdon; Redbourn; Wheathampstead; Kimpton; Knebworth and Ashwell are eligible to apply. A detailed map showing the eligible rural areas is here.

The grants are limited to 40 per cent of project costs and are capped at a maximum of €200,000 (approx. £142,000).

Projects must create two or more full time jobs and can be used to support activities such as:

  • Expansion of workshop facilities to increase productive capacity
  • Investment in equipment and machinery
  • Farm diversification activities, including rural tourism, contributing to wider rural growth

Speculative commercial property development is not a priority for this call.

For details of how to apply, download this PDF. Should you wish to discuss how funding could further develop your rural business, please contact our specialist team on 01763 847321 or email t.maris@uhy-uk.com.

Posted in: Funding, Rural Businesses

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