Rural businesses throughout Warwickshire are thriving thanks to the support and grant-funding of Warwickshire Rural Growth Network.
So far more than 500 businesses have been supported by the programme and over 120 people helped to start a business.
This continues the eye-catching success of Warwickshire Growth Rural Network, one of only five Rural Growth Networks being piloted in the country.
Working on behalf of the network, Warwickshire County Council administers the funding which comes from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Rural Development Programme for England which is part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, and the Government Equalities Office on behalf of Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership.
Expert advice and support is available to rural businesses in any sector and people looking to start their own new business. And, with such a diverse wealth of expertise within Warwickshire’s business community, that support has been accessed by a vast range of enterprises.
From manufacturing to retail and to health and social work; from science and technology to the arts and digital media; from education and construction to agriculture, businesses have either been started up or enabled to grow thanks to WRGN support.
A major strand of that support comes through Micro Enterprise Grants which have underpinned many success stories in the last two years and continue to help small rural business become established or expand. The grants have been accessed through both the Rural Development Programme for England, a seven-year programme (2007–2013) funded jointly by the EU, through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the UK Government and directly through the Rural Growth Network’s own Micro Enterprise Grant programme.
In the last two years MEGs have created or safeguarded 275 jobs with grants handed out totalling £640,000 with a leverage of over £1,100,000.
Among businesses to take advantage of a Micro Enterprise Grant is Wolston-based industrial design company Smallfry, whose managing director Steve May-Russell has been short-listed for the Institute of Directors’ West Midlands Director of the Year Award.
Steve sought support for a very specific objective – and is delighted that he did as a £12,444 Micro Enterprise Grant enabled him to purchase a rapid prototype machine with obvious benefits to business growth.
“The machine was clearly going to benefit our business,” said Steve, “but it was quite a significant investment for a small business so something to think about carefully.
“Basically, we just needed a little nudge and that’s what we got when we found out that the grant might be available. It was real surprise to get a call from a colleague suggesting we look into it. I’m very glad we did.”
For more information on Warwickshire Rural Growth Network please go to www.warwickshire.gov.uk/ruralgrowthnetwork or call 01926 412709.