Businesses across Exmoor are being urged to get their applications for the Heart of the South West Rural Enterprise Grant (REG) in as soon as possible, before the deadline in early January 2014.
Over £600,000 has already been allocated from the £1million REG fund which was launched in January. Administered by Devon County Council, and in partnership with Somerset County Council, funds have been allotted to 19 businesses across the area with the remaining funding due to be allocated in early March 2014.
The grants have to be used to aid business development and create jobs. Businesses have used the money in a variety of ways – to update machinery, automate production processes or purchase new equipment.
The Rural Enterprise Grant, designed to boost growth and create jobs throughout the area, is in addition to the Government’s £2.9 million investment in HotSW’s Rural Growth Network (RGN). The RGN is expected to create around 1,300 new jobs in the area and increase gross value added (GVA) by tens of millions.
Cllr David Hall, Deputy Leader of Somerset County Council said: “The Rural Enterprise Grant was designed to support rural businesses, helping them to expand into new markets, create vital jobs and develop the local economy. We are encouraging applicants from the Exmoor area to apply in particular, as this is an opportunity for local people to grow their business. Around 94% of businesses across Exmoor are defined as micro businesses, employing 10 people or fewer, so this grant has huge potential to boost growth in the national park.”
North Devon-based business, Fibre Harvest, is one of only a handful of worsted fibre processing and spinning plants still operating in the UK. Its high-quality yarns are used for hand-knitting and luxury knitwear.
The company are using the grant to increase production capacity from 100kg to 500 kg per week through updating machinery and building improvements. The firm will also create two new jobs.
John Arbon, Director, at Fibre Harvest said: “The money I’ve received will help to grow my business by 25% in year 1 and 50% in year 2 – the increase in capacity will allow lead times for current jobs to be halved, giving us the capacity take on larger contracts that we have had to previously turn away. This extra capacity and increased space will also enable us to finally achieve Soil Association certification, making our process the only fully worsted process in the UK that is Organic.
“We will also be able to produce more diverse fibre yarns using a greater palette of fibres from the local area, utilising rare breeds and unusual cross breeds to satisfy an ever growing craft and design market demanding unique British, sustainable fibres.”
The successful bid for £1 million from Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) was led by Devon County Council, in partnership with the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
Devon County Council’s successful bid for £1 million from Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) was achieved in partnership with the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
Chris Garcia, Chief Executive of HotSW LEP said: “We hope that more businesses apply for the Rural Enterprise Grant before the deadline – this funding is designed to help rural businesses to grow, creating and safeguarding jobs throughout the area.”
Dr Nigel Stone, Exmoor National Park Authority Chief Executive said: “Exmoor National Park is a very special place. With its stunning landscapes and natural resources there are many opportunities for business growth within the context of the National Park.”
“The National Park Authority, working with its partners, is keen to encourage appropriate growth where this can be achieved without harming the special qualities of the area and the Rural Enterprise Grants could offer a significant helping hand in securing the required investment to increase business growth in the area.”
Rural enterprises with fewer than ten employees are eligible to apply for the business grants, although applicants will need to meet 60% of project costs, with the grant covering a maximum of 40%.
This programme is drawing to close and interested parties are encouraged to visit the website to check eligibility criteria which has recently changed www.heartofswlep.co.uk/rural-growth-rural-enterprise-grants or contact an advisor at the Business Information Point (email@example.com / freephone 0330 1000338).
Read Full Post »