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Rural and food processing businesses in the North East can apply for growth funding.

If you operate in the tourism, food processing or rural business development sector, you could benefit from up to 40% capital grant funding following the opening of Round 3 of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) Growth Programme which aims to unlock business investment across the region to create jobs and growth. The Growth programme is managed and administered by the Rural Payments Agency.

The RDPE Growth Programme offers funding for capital projects that create new jobs and grow the economy in rural areas. Funding is available for tourism projects, for the growth of food processing, and for the development of rural businesses such as through the purchase or development of machinery or facilities.

Dinah Jackson, Programme Manager at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP), said: “We want to our rural businesses to secure as much of the funding available as possible and encourage businesses to apply to the Rural Payments Agency  if they are currently considering investment for growth. The availability of this grant funding for capital projects compliments other business support available in the region, to enable businesses to grow and thrive and bring benefit to the region’s rural economy.”

Three separate capital grant funds are available: Rural Business Development Grants, Rural Tourism Infrastructure Grants and Food Processing Grants. The minimum grant is £20,000. The grant can be used to fund up to 40% of eligible project costs.

To be eligible for the Rural Business Development and Rural Tourism Infrastructure grants, businesses must be located in the eligible rural areas of County Durham, Northumberland and Gateshead and within the North East Rural Growth Network boundary. You can see a map of this area here. Food and drink businesses from across the North East LEP region that process agricultural and horticultural products are invited to apply.

Businesses interested in applying for funding are invited to attend an information event with the Rural Payments Agency where further details on how to apply, the selection criteria and examples of previous successful applicants will be available. This will take place in Newcastle on Tuesday 10 December 2019, from 9:30am to 1pm. For further details on this event and to register, click here.

The deadline to submit an expression of interest is midnight on 16 February 2020. Should your expression of interest be successful, the Rural Payments Agency will invite a full application to be submitted. The Rural Payments Agency will agree a target end date with all successful applicants. The final date by which all projects must be finished, paid for and complete grant claims submitted is 30 September 2021.

For further detail on the grants available visit the North East Growth Hub. Or contact the Rural Payments Agency direct if you unsure if you are eligible to apply.

Tel: 03000 200 301 Email: [email protected]

What types of projects can the Growth Programme fund?

Here are some examples of the kinds of projects that could be eligible for a grant:

Rural business development grants – New equipment or machinery that creates productivity and efficiency gains, new premises or facilities that diversify farming activities

Food processing grants – Expansion of a meat cutting and processing plant to meet new international markets, a new milk processing facility or expansion to an existing soft fruit processing facility to enable processing of lower quality and lower value fruit to supply growing markets for end products

Rural tourism – New footpaths, bridleways or cycle paths, extending a local museum or new high-quality visitor accommodation