Scheme aimed at raising rural firms’ productivity seeks 2018 bids

LEADER grant recipient Clare Castle Park Café. Picture: GEOFFREY BRAY

LEADER grant recipient Clare Castle Park Café. Picture: GEOFFREY BRAY - Credit: Archant

Rural businesses in south Suffolk and north Essex are being urged to take up offers of help in securing EU grant aid to increase their productivity and growth.

LEADER grant recipient Edible Museum. Picture: SARAH HARDY

LEADER grant recipient Edible Museum. Picture: SARAH HARDY - Credit: Archant

Suffolk County Council’s Wool Towns LEADER programme office wants to discuss early stage business development plans with businesses looking to grow.

The LEADER programme aims to support land-based businesses including food and drink producers, farm shops, rural crafts, horticulture, forestry, tourism and farm diversifications. It can also help to support community organisations engaged rural services and culture and heritage projects in certain circumstances.

Beneficiaries include Clare Castle Country Park and the Edible Museum (chocolatier) based at Sible Hedingham. Clare Castle Country Park previously had no refreshment facilities and a LEADER grant of £12,800 towards the development of a new café has helped to improve the visitor experience to the park and increase visitor numbers.

“The LEADER programme enabled us to open ‘Platform One’, a much-needed café in Clare Castle Country Park. Without this funding, we would almost certainly have had to delay the project which in its first few weeks has exceeded all our expectations,” said chair of trustees Geoffrey Bray.


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The Edible Museum, an artisan chocolatier business start-up, was founded by Sarah Hardy. She was awarded a £10,000 business grant to develop a dedicated workshop to improve her productivity.

LEADER programme manager Gavin Talbot said: “The Leader grants are enabling rural businesses and organisations to put their good ideas into action, helping to grow rural businesses and employ more staff. They receive advice and guidance throughout the application process and a strong application has a very high chance of success, so now is a good time to apply.”

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The LEADER grants programme runs until the end of 2018. Rural businesses or organisations which need finance to invest in growing their business and creating more rural employment opportunities should contact the LEADER Team to see if they would be eligible to apply for a grant.

For more information about the programme, visit the weblink: www.suffolk.gov.uk/leaderruralfunding or contact Paul Henry on 07702 141284.

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