Rural UK businesses could potentially benefit from £35m worth of government funding to create new jobs, boost tourism, and unlock growth in less populated areas.
This figure could be increased to £50m if there are enough applications meeting the expectations.
The government’s Growth Programme, which opens for expressions of interest next Monday (November 4), provides grants for rural startups and businesses to purchase state-of-art equipment and machinery to grow their business or open up opportunities for tourism.
So far, the scheme has granted £99m to 546 local businesses across England, creating 3,771 new jobs in rural areas.
For instance, in Sheffield, the farmers behind the brand ‘Our Cow Molly’ secured a grant of over £160k to invest in a new processing unit, which allowed them to produce higher quality fresh milk and ice cream – creating six new jobs.
Farming minister, George Eustice, said: “Our dedicated fund for rural businesses has created more than 3,700 jobs and supported a diverse group of businesses, tourism operations and start-ups to unlock their full potential.
“This next round of funding will help more businesses to grow and local areas to prosper – and I would urge any rural enterprise to look into what this scheme could do for them.
“I would also encourage farmers to consider how they might use this funding to branch out and diversify their businesses, making the most of emerging trends and tastes and looking ahead to new opportunities.”
The minimum grant currently stands at £20k – reduced from £35k. Applicants can apply up until February 16, 2020.
Paul Caldwell, chief executive of the Rural Payments Agency, concluded: “The Growth programme provides funding to the 98 per cent of the rural economy in England that isn’t directly engaged in farming.
“From heritage railways to creameries and vineyards, small and micro-businesses have benefitted from the investment available under the Growth programme in recent years.
“We are looking to support applications from businesses with ambitious plans to grow their business and provide wider benefits to their local community.”