Friday, 06 July 2007 18:42

Rural zone attracts £13m investment

Written by  Ruralcity Media

ImageMore than £13.3m has been invested in the West Midlands following the establishment of a rural regeneration zone.

Hundreds of jobs have been safeguarded and groundbreaking projects set up after the zone was set up by the Advantage West Midlands regional development agency.

The news was unveiled during the Rural Regeneration Zone’s annual conference at Ludlow Racecourse on 5 July.

Future plans will see the launch of Enterprise Network Centres and multi-use community centres, delegates were told.

The rural regeneration zone covers Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire. Advantage West Midlands has allocated £36m to the zone over three years.

“The last year has marked a shift from consolidation and planning to delivering sustainable change on the ground,” said zone chairman Peter Pawsey.

“This shift has made a considerable difference in improving economic prospects and quality of life for people living and working in the rural west of the region.”

Since the zone was created, 410 new jobs have been created with a further 228 safeguarded. In all, 61 new companies have been formed.

Mr Pawsey said: “The emphasis now must focus on taking this platform forward and ensuring that the raft of exciting projects planned come to fruition.”

One notable success story has seen £3.2m invested in the National Cold War Museum at RAF Cosford.

Other successes include the Hereford Learning Village, a £30m partnership project to create a state-of-the-art centre for education and training.

A special grant scheme has seen redundant buildings brought back to life. Other grants aim to encourage businesses to adopt green technologies to reduce carbon emissions.

Hobsons Brewery received £15,000 to install a heating and cooling systems which extracts heat from the ground and utilises it efficiently in the brewing production process.

Meanwhile, Cleobury Mortimer Golf Club secured £3,500 to install a new solar water heating system to help meet the needs of the club house in a carbon neutral manner.

Ray Flynn, the regeneration zone's partnership manager, said: “These projects are great examples of where businesses are realising economic benefits from making environmental improvements.”

He added: “We now want more companies to come forward and take advantage of the grants.”

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