Northumberland chosen for £15m rural growth scheme

NORTHUMBERLAND has been chosen to take part in a £15million project to support rural businesses and boost the rural economy.

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman today announced five new rural growth networks across England under the scheme which could lead to more than 3,000 jobs and 700 businesses being created nationwide. She said: “Great business ideas have been held back by the challenges of a rural location for far too long. Rural growth networks will fix problems like a shortage of work premises and limited internet access to give rural entrepreneurs the chance to get their business ideas off the ground and achieve their full potential.

“Our £15 million investment will create thousands of new jobs and hundreds of new businesses, boosting the rural economy and supporting thriving local communities. Altogether we’re spending £165million to support economic growth in rural England, and shows once again that we are firmly on the side of rural communities.”

Five public and private sector partnerships have been selected to each deliver a regional rural growth network to run over three years, including Durham and Northumberland.

As well as transforming business prospects in these areas, each network will be a pilot to help the Government look at how best to increase the economic potential of rural areas across the country.

Up to £2million of the Government’s investment will target rural enterprises led by women.

Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities Theresa May said: “Women have a vital role to play and we want to encourage them to fully contribute their skills and talents to the economic recovery. Establishing or growing a rural business presents particular challenges which this £2 million will help overcome.

“Women are about half as likely as men to be engaged in entrepreneurial activity. We want to inspire and help women achieve their potential, which is vital to generating long term sustainable growth.”

The five Rural Growth Networks were selected based on their potential to grow the local economy by creating jobs and providing new business opportunities.

Each application made proposals for supporting rural businesses and tackling local barriers to growth, such as a lack of superfast broadband, a shortage of business premises, fragmented business networks, limited training opportunities and poor infrastructure. The networks are aimed at enabling businesses to overcome these problems and establish new business hubs at the centre of rural communities.