East Anglia: �60m Rural Economy Grant scheme set to boost investment

A NEW �60million grant scheme to boost businesses in rural England is to be unveiled by the Government today.

The Rural Economy Grant programme will offer substantial sums, possibly more than �1million towards major projects, to help ambitious rural businesses transform plans for growth into reality.

Successful applicants will be eligible to receive up to 40% of the cost of projects in the areas of farm competitiveness, agri-food, tourism, forestry and micro-enterprise.

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said: “Businesses in rural England can play a significant part in helping to rebuild the nation’s finances. From today, they have the chance to turn their most ambitious and innovative business plans into a reality, boosting profits, supporting a thriving rural economy and improving the natural environment.”

Small businesses in areas designated under the Government’s �15m Rural Growth Networks pilot scheme, the successful bids for which are now expected to be announced next month, will have priority under the grant scheme.

However, the scheme is open for applications immediately, with the first round running until the end of April and a second round likely to follow in the autumn.

Chris Starkie of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, which is bidding for Rural Growth Network status, said: “We welcome the announcement of this grant and will be encouraging entrepreneurs in our rural areas to bid.”

Most Read

He added: “Importantly, if New Anglia secures one of the six Rural Growth Networks to create a network of business hubs in rural areas, there is a good chance that New Anglia will be able to access some of this funding, direct.”