Bids to boost SELEP’s rural economy welcomed

Rural businesses in Kent, East Sussex and Essex are being urged by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) to bid for a share of £14.5m, part of a national £120m fund to grow the economy.

The Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has announced that the next round of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) Growth Programme, is now open for bids.

Rural and farm businesses can now put their case for funding for projects which will help new businesses get off the ground, support existing one to grow, develop new products and access new export markets.

SELEP champions the economic growth of East Sussex, Essex, Kent, Medway, Southend and Thurrock and the area’s 344,500-strong business community. It is the country’s largest LEP in terms of the area it covers, and has a population in excess of 4 million.

Christian Brodie, Chairman of SELEP, said: “Nearly a quarter of our area’s population live in our rural communities and the funding is welcome, and timely. It is vital that everything is done to ensure we have a strong and vibrant local economy, which is why we have made the rural sector an integral part of our work.

“We are confident that funding via the RDPE will help create new businesses as well as support the network of organisations already doing a great job in nurturing and supporting existing rural jobs.”

To help local firms fully understand the opportunities offered by the funding, SELEP is organising three events:

The dates of the local events are: ? 15 March 2.00 – 5.00 at Plumpton college; ? 22 March 2.00 –5.00 at Chelmsford racecourse ? 6 April am in Kent and Medway, venue to be finalised

Details on how to bid for RDPE funding, which comes under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) Growth Programme, itself part of the European Structural and Investment Funds programmes (ESIF), can be found at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/rdpe-growth-programme