Growth network to 'create 500 jobs'

More than 500 jobs and 120 start-up businesses could be created by a government initiative in rural Warwickshire.

Transforming the area into a centre of enterprise will encourage entrepreneurs to start up their companies and create jobs, said Defra minister David Heath.

Warwickshire is one of just five regions selected to deliver a Rural Growth Network.

THe government's £2.4 million investment is expected to boost the local rural economy by £50 million by providing the infrastructure and opportunities that rural businesses need to grow.

Mr Heath made the announcement during a "rural roadshow" allowing him to hear first-hand from rural communities and businesses about what more the government can do to support economic growth and thriving rural communities.

Businesses will have access to specialist training on topics including business planning, management and leadership and use of carbon-efficient technologies, he said.

The minister visited an "enterprise hub" at Stoneleigh Science Business Park, Coventry.

He said: "We believe that rural businesses can make a huge contribution to economic growth – as long as government ensures they have the infrastructure and opportunities they need to do so."

Warwickshire is one of just five regions chosen to deliver Rural Growth Networks. The others are Wiltshire, Cumbria, Somerset and Devon, Durham and Northumberland.

In total, Rural Growth Networks are expected to create a total of more than 3,000 jobs and 700 start-up businesses following a £15 million total government investment.

Warwickshire county councillor Alan Cockburn said government funding would boost the rural economy and act as a catalyst to enable businesses to grow and unlock further investment.

"The county has such a strong history of technology and innovation and the Rural Growth Network will ensure rural enterprises have the support, resource and expertise to develop.

"The network will enhance our rural infrastructure and will be very much at the heart of the work of the Local Enterprise Partnership's Going for Growth strategy.

"We are already building many proactive relationships with businesses in Warwickshire and are working to help them to overcome barriers to growth and thrive in the long term."

The government has also set up 17 farming and rural networks across the country to give rural business and community leaders direct access to ministers.

The move forms part of a pledge that government policy for rural areas will be shaped by direct engagement with the people who live and work there.

Pauline Yardley, Chair of the Worcestershire and Warwickshire Rural Farming Network, said: "In our capacity as the local Rural Farming Network we will be meeting the minister face-to-face for the first time.

"We have previously had an opportunity to discuss some of the issues that affect rural communities and have been pleased with the responses we've had from Defra, so we are looking forward to meeting him visiting the areas where we live and work."



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