Wednesday, 07 October 2015 09:44

Funding available for rural businesses

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Funding available for rural businesses

RURAL businesses across England are being urged to apply for funding from the European Structural and Investment Fund.

Funding is available for investment in new and existing rural micro and small businesses to grow and create new jobs.

It includes money from the European Social Fund (ESF), European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).

A particular focus is on rural tourism, including projects that improve tourist accommodation and encourage longer stays in the countryside.

This summer, the government made a further £8m in funding available, saying it wanted existing and new rural entrepreneurs to have the chance to fulfil their potential.

Farms were the fastest growing tourist attractions in 2014, according to the government.

Funding was an important opportunity for farmers looking to diversify their business and encourage an increase in the popularity of agri-tourism, it said.

Local authorities are encouraging businesses to apply.

Hampshire County Council, for example, said European funding could stimulate job creation and local business growth.

Councillor Rob Humby, the council's lead member for rural affairs, said: "Around 83% of Hampshire is classified as rural, so the success of rural businesses is vital to the county's economic prosperity.

"This is a great opportunity for businesses in the rural areas of central, West and North Hampshire, which are within the Enterprise M3 LEP area, to get a share of funding to help them grow their business.

Funding could be available for a range of rural businesses from a farm wanting to diversify, to a new visitor attraction, or perhaps for a larger premises for food processing.

"I would urge all rural businesses in the area to take a look at this opportunity and explore how funding can support their investment plans and help them become more successful."

Grants of between £50,000 and £140,000 are available for businesses from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).

The funding is administered by Defra and there are three schemes businesses can apply for - rural tourism, food processing and micro or small business investment.

Details of funding that is open for applications are available here.

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