Further funds have been released by the North East Rural Growth Network to support the growth of businesses in rural Northumberland, Durham and Gateshead. A call has been made for businesses to apply for two separate funds – the Strategic Economic Infrastructure Fund (SEIF) and the Rural Business Growth Fund (RGBF).
The SEIF can support the creation of enterprise units for multiple business users, unlock economic development sites or support strategic tourism projects that will generate significant overnight stays and day visitors.
The RBGF grant focuses primarily on supporting medium sized businesses to expand and grow their businesses and create additional employment opportunities. This is to make sure it does not duplicate capital grant support to micro and small businesses now available through the LEADER and the Rural Development Programme for England – Growth Programme. However, mico and small businesses that are unable to access any of the other rural capital funding schemes may also be eligible to apply.
The grant will support projects that will grow a business, create jobs or bring more money into the rural economy. Applications are sought from the following business sectors – food and drink, manufacturing, energy and environmental products and services, scientific and technical services and niche tourism projects, including tourism accommodation. Grant funding is available from a minimum of £10,000 to a maximum of £60,000 and can help pay for constructing or improving buildings and buying new equipment and machinery.
Both schemes are able to support up to 40% of the cost of capital developments, subject to eligibility. They must lead to the creation of more and better jobs in the region’s rural economy.
North East LEP Business Growth Director, Colin Bell said: “Our rural businesses play an important role in supporting the regional economy. As such, our focus is on ensuring they have the right package of support to flourish, including access to finance to aid growth, sustainability and job creation.”
One tourism project that has been supported by the RBGF programme is Knitsley Farm Shop and Granary cafe in Durham. The business received a grant of just over £19,000 in 2016 to help their extension plans. The funds have been used to fit out and extend the main production kitchen and install new weighing scales in the butchery. The investment has grown the business, creating at least five new jobs.
Jacqui Kell, Chief Executive of Arch, said: “Over twenty businesses are already receiving support from the North East Rural Growth Network and I would encourage any businesses interested in the funding to contact the team at Arch to check their eligibility.”
There is no deadline for applicants as this is an open call, open until the 31st January 2018. Funds of around £1.2 million are available. It is expected the call for applications will be open until January 2018 however the funds will be allocated on a first come first served basis. Priority given to those projects that can make a significant start in 2017.