Around 900 jobs and almost 500 new businesses are expected to be created in Cumbria following the £3.5 million investment in a Rural Growth Network, announced by Farming Minister, Jim Paice, on his Rural Roadshow to the region today.
Cumbria is one of five regions to benefit from a Rural Growth Network, set up to help rural areas overcome the barriers to economic growth such as a shortage of business premises and poor broadband access.
Mr Paice announced the Rural Growth Network funding on his Rural Roadshow to Cumbria today. Defra Rural Roadshows allow ministers to hear first-hand about rural issues from communities and businesses, to learn about successes and challenges and discover what help is needed to support rural growth and jobs. The direct access to ministers will help ensure that rural England has a strong voice at the heart of Government.
Mr Paice is visiting the Blencathra Business Centre in Keswick which will be transformed into eight new work premises with business services including one-to-one business advice, online training, networking opportunities and access to superfast broadband. Entrepreneurs will have new work space to start up their companies and jobs will be created as local businesses get the support they need to grow.
This is just one of the Rural Growth Network’s ‘enterprise hubs’ planned for rural areas across Cumbria, which will deliver business support to a range of sectors, including food and drink, adventure sports and digital and creative enterprises.
To date, a total of 76 new work premises are planned for the county.
Farming Minister, Jim Paice said:
“There are particular challenges to running a business in a remote area. Too often, business people are held back by not being able to find work premises, having no access to superfast broadband, or being unable to expand their skills without travelling into a city. The Rural Growth Network will take down these barriers to growth and enable local businesses to turn their ambitions into reality. I look forward to visiting Blencathra Business Park today, where our investment will open new doors for rural entrepreneurs.”
The Rural Growth Network is part of the £165 million programme of measures that the Government is delivering to grow business and create new job prospects in rural areas.
As well as meeting local farmers, councils and local enterprise partnerships, on his Rural Roadshow, Mr Paice will have his first meetings with the region’s two Rural and Farming Networks. Defra has established seventeen Rural and Farming Networks across the country to give community and business leaders the chance to shape rural policy by sharing advice and insights through a hotline to Government.
Farming Minister, Jim Paice continued:
“My Rural Roadshow to Cumbria gives me an opportunity to hear first-hand not only about the challenges rural businesses face, but also of the innovative ideas that have made them a success. It’s all about listening to what works, and how the Government can do more to enable rural businesses to achieve their economic potential and support thriving rural communities.”
In a further boost for the region’s rural economy, a new £15 million investment is announced today to enable top local employer Lake District Creamery to take up new opportunities in the export market.
Mr Paice will visit the company in Aspatria where he will hear how it has developed its processing facilities and upgraded its boiler house in order to branch out into the energy drinks industry. Lake District Creamery, owned by First Milk, a consortium of 2,000 farmers, will announce that it has secured an export deal to supply cheese sticks to Emirates Airlines, which will see around six million portions being consumed by passengers in the next year.
Mr Paice continued:
“Only a few years after purchasing the site, First Milk has already been successful in putting their Lake District Creamery on the world stage. More importantly, the company has shown how an added-value, export-led business strategy, focussing on the long-term opportunities for dairy can drive returns for Cumbrian farmers that supply milk to the creamery.”
To complete his Rural Roadshow, Mr Paice will deliver the keynote speech at the Dairy Farming in Cumbria conference in Penrith. The conference is the first of its kind and will focus on the challenges faced by farmers, growth opportunities and sharing best practice on farm management.
Mr Will Cockbain, chair of the Cumbria and North Lancashire Farming, Food and Rural Network, said:
“We welcome the fact the minister is here in Cumbria. The current milk issues are clearly of great concern to a county like Cumbria with its hugely important dairy sector. As well as the milk issue, the Cumbria and North Lancashire RFN group are also looking to discuss issues around flooding and river and stream maintenance, drainage and the Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme.”
The enterprise hub that Jim Paice is visiting today is just one of the enterprise hubs planned for Cumbria.
- Eight new work premises at Blencathra Business Centre;
- Eight new work premises at Clawthorpe Hall;
- Twenty new work premises at Marl, Ulverston;
- Fourteen new work premises at Alston;
- Eight new work premises at Millom; and
- Ten new work premises at University of Cumbria, Ambelside;
Added to the eight work spaces in Keswick this makes a total of 76 work spaces for the North East.
All of these enterprise hubs will be networked with one another, acting as centres to facilitate knowledge transfer, provide mentoring, training and skills development to enable businesses to grow and capitalise on new opportunities.
The five areas have been chosen to deliver Rural Growth Networks: Wiltshire, Cumbria, Somerset and Devon, Durham and Northumberland, and Warwickshire.