SOME £250,000 in grant funding is still available for rural businesses looking to develop or expand in southern Oxfordshire.
The Southern Oxfordshire LEADER Programme has funding available to support a wide range of projects for farmers, tourism and community based businesses.
In 2009 the Southern Oxfordshire LEADER programme, a joint initiative involving South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils, was awarded £1.89 million of European funding to support rural projects, including farms, up to 2013. So far 44 businesses have received a significant boost after successfully applying for a share of the funding.
Projects which have benefited from LEADER funding are spread right across the area and provide a wide variety of services.
One business for example, Sherwood Farm, successfully applied for £40,000 funding to help pay for a much needed fully functioning slurry system, while local business parks operator Jennings used £30,000 to invest in a café facility for home-based businesses.
Angus Dart, of Sherwood Farm, said: "The LEADER funding was the key element in enabling us to complete the three parts of our project at one time. It has turned a recurring problem into an important asset."
The tourism economy in south Oxfordshire has also received a significant boost from LEADER, with projects such as the refurbishment of Folly Tower, Faringdon, supported by £24,000 funding, and the new Lily's Farm Shop and Tea Room in Dorchester, which received £31,000 funding, helping to enhance the visitor experience for tourists and residents alike.
Mark Stevenson, of Lily's Farm Shop and Tea Room, said: "Without funding we would have struggled to achieve the project. Business premises in villages are rare and this one needed considerable renovation and refurbishment.
"The tearoom has become very popular and we are clearly meeting a need and enabling more people to access local produce. It has enabled a significant expansion in our business and created additional full-time and part-time employment for the community."
By helping businesses grow the LEADER Programme provides benefits not only to those involved but also to the wider community by supporting local job creation and helping to raise the profile of Southern Oxfordshire as an area for rural business to thrive.
Kate Forrest of the LEADER Programme, said: "The funding that we have available gives businesses in southern Oxfordshire a much needed boost to help them develop.
"Businesses that expand or diversify can provide a real boost to the local economy and the wider community, and we encourage any that are looking to do just that to get in touch with us and apply for funding."
If you are looking to develop your business then why not get in touch with us to find out if you could qualify for a Southern Oxfordshire LEADER grant.
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