Up to £1m available to support rural business growth plans

Rural businesses in Shropshire are being urged to tap into grant funding worth up to £170,000 for new initiatives that will lead to economic growth and jobs or that will help farmers diversify into non agricultural activities.

Roger Phillips, Chairman of the Marches ESIF committee
Roger Phillips, Chairman of the Marches ESIF committee

A total of £1 million is on offer for eligible organisations through DEFRA’s latest round of funding in its Growth Programme. The funding comes from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), which is part of the European Structural Investment Funds (ESIF).

Grants could be used for constructing or improving business premises or buying new equipment and machinery

The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership, which delivers the programme, is particularly interested in grant applications from farming business wishing to diversify into non-agricultural activities and environmental and land based rural businesses and retailers that want to expand.

Grants start at a minimum of £35,000 (£20,000 in north Shropshire) and can go up to a maximum of £170,000. Applicants can apply for up to 40 per cent of eligible costs. Businesses have until January 2018 to register an expression of interest for a grant.

Roger Phillips, Chairman of the Marches ESIF committee, said: “It is important to recognise the important role that farmers and small rural businesses play in our local economy.

“Our participation in this DEFRA grant scheme will help those rural businesses deliver their growth aspirations, which in turn will support their rural communities.”

Expressions of Interest for funding bids must be submitted by January 2018. For more information and advice on how to apply, contact the Marches Growth Hub on 0345 6000 727 or email enquiries@marchesgrowthhub.co.uk.