More than a third of the D2N2 area’s total of 880,000-plus jobs are in rural local authority areas but according to DEFRA (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) problems for the rural economy can include reduced income among farmers, lower than average wages and difficulties in finding business investment.
D2N2 – a partnership of business, local authorities, skills and training providers, and community organisations tasked with boosting economic growth across Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire – is making £933,000 available; to help new or established small or micro businesses in rural areas to expand and create new jobs.
Capital grants – made available through D2N2’s funding allocation from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) Growth Programme – could fund activities including:
farmers diversifying into non-agricultural activities such as tourism or an attraction to create jobs;
rural food and drink manufacturers, for example craft breweries looking to increase production;
the construction of workshops or investing in new machinery, to enable a rural business to expand.
To be eligible to apply for a grant a rural business must operate in the D2N2 area and in one of its eight key economic sectors – the visitor economy, food and drink manufacturing, low carbon, construction, transport equipment manufacturing, transport and logistics, creative industries or life sciences – OR be looking to create new jobs, OR increase productivity; OR introduce a technology, product or process new to their sector.
Up to 26 projects will be funded in the D2N2 area. Grants available will range from £35,000 to a maximum of approximately £140,000 and can cover up to 40 per cent of a project’s total costs. Projects must have a total value of at least £87,500 to be eligible for funding.
The EAFRD funding will aim to create at least 68 new jobs in the area, and boost tourism and visitor numbers, increase the turnover of businesses and increase productivity in the rural economy.
Businesses must be registered with Government agency the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) before they can apply for the EAFRD funding. To register online for RPA go to website ruralpayments.service.gov.uk/
Once registered with the RPA a business can make an outline application for EAFRD funding online.
Applications – which must be submitted by 5pm on Friday November 27 – will be assessed by the Government and the D2N2 LEP. Those with the strongest business case will then be asked to make a further, full application for project funding.
Other funding could also be made available, for agricultural and forestry businesses in D2N2 rural areas; through the European LEADER funding programme, the Countryside Productivity Scheme and Countryside Stewardship. Additional support for businesses, including rural ones, may also be available through other parts of D2N2’s European Structural Investment Funds (ESIF) allocation – £214m to be spent in the D2N2 area over the six years, to 2020 – of which the EAFRD funding is a part..
D2N2’s Growth Hub team will be holding a series of information sessions for would-be applicants across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, in September and October – dates to be announced shortly – to give help and guidance on the new EAFRD funding.
David Ralph, Chief Executive of the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Small rural businesses provide a service to their community, accessible employment opportunities and are an important part of the economy but can struggle to find funding which is perhaps more readily available in urban areas.
“The EAFRD funding we’re announcing today is aimed specifically at providing owners of new and established, smaller businesses with the help they need.”
More information about the Growth Programme can be found at: www.gov.uk/government/collections/growth-programme-grants-for-the-rural-economy