£1m grant scheme offers a helping hand to county’s small businesses

SMALL businesses in Northumberland have a chance of benefiting from a new grant funding scheme.

Launched by the North East Rural Growth Network, the £1million support package aims to allow up and coming or existing enterprises with less than ten employees to develop new and much needed jobs.

The money is being provided from Defra’s Rural Development Programme for England and is in addition to £3.2million already invested by Defra in the pilot network.

Its aims include helping owners to overcome the challenges of running businesses in more remote locations, such as a shortage of work premises.

Fiona Cruickshank, North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) board member, said: “As lead partner in the North East Rural Growth Network Programme, NELEP welcomes the introduction of the new Small Business Growth Fund, which will make an important contribution to our agreed economic growth priorities.

“This fund will help to underpin the wider programme of support for small business growth across rural communities in Durham, Gateshead and Northumberland and bolster rural economies in these areas.

“The new scheme will help equip high quality rural micro-enterprises across the North East LEP area with the resources to grow and compete. We would encourage applications from any such businesses within the relevant sectors with ambitious plans for their future.”

Rural enterprises will be able to apply for grant funding of between £10,000 and £150,000, and applicants must meet 60 per cent of project costs.

The fund is looking for projects that will boost turnover, create new jobs and open up access to new markets and they must be a new activity or step change for the business applying. Guidance and support will also be provided.

Northumberland County Council is the accountable body for the North East Rural Growth Network. To find out more about the growth fund, visit www.northumberland.gov.uk or call Alison Hesselberth on 01670 623924.