A programme to stimulate business growth and job creation in rural communities, including in Northumberland, is on track to exceed its job creation targets.
Four years in to its five-year life, the North East Rural Growth Network has committed more than £5million in grant funding, with more than half of the 321 planned new jobs arising from the investment.
The programme, with £6million funding from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), is being delivered until March 2020.
Colin Bell, Business Growth Director at the North East LEP, said: “So far we’ve supported 37 projects.
“For the 19 rural businesses that received a share of £1.2million in financial grants towards investment in capital, plant and equipment this has meant the financial opportunity to expand.
“We have also invested £4.2million in the future of 18 key business and strategic tourism sites.”
He added: “The results to date for local people include more than 178 new and better jobs across Northumberland, Gateshead and County Durham; and that’s just the beginning.
“The commitments we have made, and the public and private investment that is being leveraged as a result, are set to generate more than 400 jobs, exceeding our target.”
Ken Dunbar, Chairman of the Rural Growth Network Executive, said: “With just over a year left of the North East Rural Growth Network we’re well on the way with our plans to ensure our rural economy is an accessible and distinctive place to live, work and visit.
“Our aim is to support businesses in their journey to overcome some of the barriers to SME growth through the provision of good quality accommodation for rural businesses of all shapes and sizes.
“This includes the creation of 4,000 square meters of new commercial and industrial floor-space and the refurbishment of 2,000 more; giving rural business the space to expand and securing local jobs when they do.”
To find out more about the Rural Growth Network or Advance Northumberland, visit www.advancenorthumberland.co.uk/