Tuesday, 02 August 2016 09:20

Grant scheme reopens for applications

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Grant scheme reopens for applications

A Rural Growth Network fund has re-opened to support the rural economy in north-east England.

More than ten businesses are already receiving help from the scheme, helping them to expand in rural Northumberland.

The funding programme offers two capital funds to businesses - the Strategic Economic Infrastructure Fund (SEIF) and the Rural Business Growth Fund (RBGF).

The SEIF fund can support the creation of enterprise units for multiple business users including enterprise hubs and site preparation works.

It can unlock economic development sites where an end user is in place or support strategic tourism projects that will generate significant overnight stays and day visitors.

The RBGF supports businesses planning to expand or diversify into new markets or products. It is available for sectors including food and drink, manufacturing, and the creative industries.

Grants are available from a minimum of £10,000 to a maximum of £60,000 to support improvements or expansion of premises and the purchase of capital plant or equipment.

Both schemes are available to support up to 40% of the cost of capital developments, subject to state aids, leading to the creation of more and better jobs in the region's rural economy.

North East LEP board member Gillian Hall 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 project that has recently been supported by the Strategic Economic Infrastructure Fund is the Kibblesworth Village Millennium Centre in Gateshead.

The centre received just over £41,000 to expand the community centre facilities. It used the money to create an enterprise hub with four office units, meeting space and facilities.

The enterprise hub opened in March this year and within three months the units have all been fully let and are set to create at least six jobs.

In 2015, the Rural Growth Network secured £6 million capital investment from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Growth Deal - Local Growth Fund.

This investment will support businesses in the rural areas of Durham, Gateshead and Northumberland until 2020.

The fund has re-opened to Stage 1 Expression of Interest applications and will close again on the 3rd October 2016.

For full details, click here.

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