A new £200m funding programme aimed at rural businesses is expected to generate more than 6,000 new jobs and support broadband projects.
Funding for rural businesses that will generate thousands of jobs and provide new support to expand and improve their premises has been announced as part of a £200m grant offer.
Announcing the latest round of Rural Development Programme funding, Lord Gardiner confirmed that for the first time under the current scheme specific funding will be available to support new rural broadband projects, and provide significant amounts of funding to on-farm businesses to invest in new infrastructure such as new buildings and machinery.
The current Rural Development Programme for England is expected to generate 6,750 new jobs. Already more than 1,400 projects have been agreed which are expected to create over 2,300 jobs. The grants will also fund landowners to improve farm productivity and invest in rural tourism opportunities.
Lord Gardiner said:"One in three businesses in this country are based in the countryside, and this government is committed to providing the support they need to create a strong and prosperous rural economy.
"This funding will make sure businesses in remote locations can get online, help farmers install cutting-edge technology, create new tourist hotspots and bring high quality jobs to rural communities across the country."
This round of funding will include:
Lord Gardiner made the announcement during a visit to the Suffolk Cookhouse project in Ipswich, which received £422,000 in 2012 to open a new food hall. The hall is now one of the biggest tourism hubs in the region, bringing together local artists and food producers, and creating 45 jobs.
The first grant funding that will become available will be for reservoirs and forestry equipment and these are expected to be open for applications from Monday, while funding for broadband, rural business support, on-farm food processing, arable and horticultural productivity and resource efficiency will be made available later in the year.
A further £6.6m will be available for animal health and welfare projects.