Suffolk Show 2013: Rural businesses set to benefit from £1.1m worth of funding

Mark Pendlington launches a new funding programme for rural businesses

Mark Pendlington launches a new funding programme for rural businesses - Credit: Archant

Business leaders have been urged to “release the potential of the countryside” and take advantage of a new £1.1m fund designed to support the rural economy.

Mark Pendlington, chairman of New Anglia’s Green Economy Pathfinder and Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) board member, was speaking at today’s Suffolk Show.

His comments were made at the launch of the New Anglia LEP Rural Growth Network, which will offer businesses help with funding, practical information and support.

Mr Pendlington, who is also the group director at Anglia Water, was addressing guests at the County Land and Business Association (CLA) marquee.

“This new funding is all about offering practical help and support to the rural economy which is by no means immune from today’s tough economic conditions,” he said. “We will add this new funding to the wide range of local and national business support programmes that are available already, to create an exciting new package of opportunity for rural businesses.

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“Let’s build on the confidence in the rural economy that we see here at the Suffolk Show, and be determined to support enterprise and growth, while targeting support at those who need it most. Food, drink, agriculture and tourism are among those sectors depending on us.

“This is all about giving the rural economy a hand-up, not a hand-out; an approach that is totally within the resilient character of all those who live and work in the countryside. The Rural Growth Network can lead the way in supporting many of these to ensure our local economy continues to grow.”

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Support could range from advising a manufacturing company based on an industrial estate to supporting a web designer who works at home. Opportunities include everything from grants to help with growth to free advice on saving energy.

Mr Pendlington said they now wanted businesses to tell them where help was most needed so that they could target specific areas.

His comments were echoed by Chris Soule, from the Federation of Small Businesses in Suffolk, who said: “We urge firms to have their say in New Anglia’s rural survey, the results of which we hope to see published prior to funding decisions being made.’

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