Chesterton windmill in Warwickshire
A new £2m grant fund to grow businesses and create jobs in rural Warwickshire has been launched.
In a major boost to jobs and growth in the region, businesses and other organisations are being invited to submit expressions of interest to the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) Growth Programme.
The funding includes £1.5m of business development grants open to small and micro businesses in rural areas including social enterprises and farmers diversifying into non-agricultural activities.
Up to £500,000 of tourism grants is also open to land-owners, people or groups representing rural communities, charities and public bodies.
Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) worked with the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) and other government departments to secure the financial allocation through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) - part of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF).
Warwickshire businesses supported by the RDPE Growth Programme’s predecessor programme, included advanced manufacturing and engineering companies, an alpaca stud farm, an organic food manufacturer and retailer, and local breweries.
Sean Farnell, board member of the CWLEP, said: “Our region has an extremely strong and diverse rural economy and it is great news the area has been allocated further grant funding to boost businesses.
“Through the Rural Growth Network, partner organisations have been working together successfully to enable innovation and create employment at a range of businesses and led to Warwickshire being named as one of the most enterprising places in Britain at the Enterprising Britain Awards.
“It is important we build on the progress that has been and for organisations to apply for a share of this new funding to further strengthen our rural economy.”
A series of free workshops are being held across Warwickshire to help businesses in making applications and provide the opportunity to discuss possible projects with the RPA’s Rural Development Team.
Each workshop has a different focus and target audience, but all three are open to any interested business. There will also be information about other business support programmes in the CWLEP area. The workshops include:
· Raising Finance for Business – 10 March 2017, 9.00am – 12.30pm, Warwick Innovation Centre, Warwick Technology Park, Warwick.
· Farm Diversification – From beef to beer? – 27 March 2017, 2.00pm – 5.00pm, Arthur Rank Centre, Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth.
· Helping North Warwickshire businesses grow – 29 March 2017, 9.30am – 12.00pm, Lea Marston Hotel, Sutton Coldfield.
The new grant fund is open for expressions of interest until 31 January 2018. The fund is part of a wider package of finance available to support Coventry and Warwickshire businesses including European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) investment grants, ERDF innovation grants, ERDF low carbon grants, LEADER grants in North Warwickshire and Warwickshire County Council’s Capital Growth Fund.