Rural businesses in Cumbria can access a new £138m pot to deliver economic growth and create jobs in rural areas.
The latest tranche of European funding has been released under the Leader programme.
Cumbria has been a flagship area for Leader in the past, raising hopes that the county will do well again.
Two areas – Cumbria Fells and Dales (covering the Lake District, upper Eden Valley and south Cumbria) and Solway, Border and Eden (for the north of the county) – have received £15m in grants and support since 2007. One of the biggest beneficiaries was the Lakes Free Range Egg Company.
The organic egg supplier received a £785,000 grant towards a £1.96m scheme to install world-leading egg processing and grading equipment at its site at Stainton, near Penrith. This created 11 full-time-equivalent jobs.
Announcing the latest funding, Farming Minister George EusticeCORR said: “We want to grow our rural economy, which is why we’re making funding available to local communities so they can invest in projects to bring more jobs and enterprise to their areas.” Following a competitive selection process, 80 local action groups – covering 85 per cent of rural England – made up of local businesses and voluntary groups, will allocate money to rural businesses to kick-start new projects. The Rural Payments Agency manages the Leader scheme and will make payments to successful applicants.
Its chief executive, Mark Grimshaw, said: “The great thing about the scheme is the level of collaboration between government and local communities. “We have a common purpose and a strong belief that we can work in partnership to allow the rural economy to grow."
“But this is all about local delivery using local knowledge, and I am looking forward to working with the 80 local action groups, using the experience that the agency has in administering similar schemes, over the lifetime of the Leader to make a real world difference to rural communities.”
In anticipation of the announcement, Cumbria County Council staged workshops in Wigton, Keswick, Appleby and Alston in May to help businesses prepare applications for grants. More information is available online at www.fellsanddales.org.uk or www.sbeleader.org.uk.