£3.5m boost for rural growth network

A £3.5m investment is set to create hundreds of rural jobs in Cumbria, the government has claimed.

Around 900 jobs and almost 500 new businesses would be created following the creation of a Rural Growth Network in the county, said Junior Defra minister Jim Paice.

Cumbria is one of five regions to benefit from a Rural Growth Network, set up to help rural areas overcome the barriers to economic growth.

Mr Paice announced the Rural Growth Network funding during a Rural Roadshow visit to Cumbria on Tuesday (21 August).

The roadshows aim to ensure ministers hear first-hand about rural issues from communities and businesses, discovering what help is needed to support rural growth and jobs.

The direct access to ministers will help ensure that rural England has a strong voice at the heart of Government.

Mr Paice visited the Blencathra Business Centre in Keswick which will be transformed into eight new work premises.

Business services will include one-to-one business advice, online training, networking opportunities and access to superfast broadband.

Entrepreneurs will have new work space to start up their companies and jobs will be created as local businesses get the support they need to grow.

The Blencathra centre is just one of the Rural Growth Network's 'enterprise hubs' planned for rural areas across Cumbria.

They aim to deliver business support to a range of sectors, including food and drink, adventure sports and digital and creative enterprises.

Dozens of new work premises are planned for the county. They include:

• Eight new work premises at Blencathra Business Centre;

• Eight new work premises at Clawthorpe Hall;

• Twenty new work premises at Marl, Ulverston;

• Fourteen new work premises at Alston;

• Eight new work premises at Millom;

• Ten new work premises at University of Cumbria, Ambleside;

The enterprise hubs will be networked with one another, acting as centres for knowledge transfer, provide mentoring, training and skills development.

Mr Paice said: "There are particular challenges to running a business in a remote area.

"Too often, business people are held back by not being able to find work premises, having no access to superfast broadband, or being unable to expand their skills without travelling into a city.

"The Rural Growth Network will take down these barriers to growth and enable local businesses to turn their ambitions into reality.

The network is part of a £165m programme of measures that the government is delivering to grow business and create new job prospects in rural areas.

As well as meeting local councils and local enterprise partnerships, Mr Paice held meetings with the region's two Rural and Farming Networks.

The networks aim to give community and business leaders the chance to shape rural policy by sharing advice and insights through a "hotline" to government.

The five areas have been chosen to deliver Rural Growth Networks are Wiltshire, Cumbria, Somerset and Devon, Durham and Northumberland, and Warwickshire.



Sign up to our newsletter to receive all the latest news and updates.