£3.2m boost for rural areas

Cawledge Business Park, Alnwick
Cawledge Business Park, Alnwick

Up to 300 new jobs could be created from a £3.2million Government investment in rural businesses in Northumberland and Durham.

Farming Minister Jim Paice made the announcement during his Rural Roadshow to the North East on Tuesday, which has been welcomed by Northumberland County Council.

The funding will establish a Rural Growth Network to help rural areas overcome the barriers to economic growth such as a shortage of business premises and poor broadband access.

Sixty-one ‘enterprise hubs’ are planned for rural areas across the North East, all of which will deliver business support, networking opportunities, dedicated mentoring and new, high quality workspace.

Among the areas to benefit are Alnwick, Wooler and communities within Northumberland National Park, which will see the creation of new premises designed to promote local growth.

The initiative will also support hundreds of existing businesses.

Mr Paice said: “Farms and rural businesses are too often held back by problems like insufficient local business premises and few training opportunities.

“The Rural Growth Network will take down these barriers to growth, allowing farmers and local entrepreneurs to turn their ambitions into reality.

“I’m looking forward to meeting some of them today to celebrate this great news for businesses in the North East.”

Coun Jeff Reid, leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “This Rural Growth Network funding and the schemes it will support are very welcome in Northumberland.

“It is good to see the Minister in the North East and we are encouraged to see rural issues being taken seriously.

“Encouraging economic growth across the county is one of our main aims and these schemes will enable business growth and establish important jobs, as well as helping to support the sustainability of smaller rural communities.”

The Rural Growth Network is part of a wider £165million programme of measures.