Rural Warwickshire will be transformed into a centre of enterprise that is expected to create more than 500 jobs and 120 start-up businesses, Environment Minister, David Heath will announce on his Rural Roadshow to the county today.
Warwickshire is one of just five regions selected to deliver a Rural Growth Network. Government’s £2.4 million investment is expected to boost the local rural economy by £50 million by providing the infrastructure and opportunities that rural businesses need to grow.
Mr Heath will make the announcement on his Warwickshire Rural Roadshow. Defra Rural Roadshows allow ministers to hear first-hand from rural communities and businesses about what more the Government can do to support economic growth and thriving rural communities.
Mr Heath will visit one of the Rural Growth Network’s new ‘enterprise hubs’ at Stoneleigh Science Business Park in Coventry, where 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.
Businesses will have access to specialist training on topics including business planning, management and leadership and use of carbon-efficient technologies. Tailored support will be offered to female entrepreneurs.
Environment Minister, David Heath said:
“We believe that rural businesses can make a huge contribution to economic growth - as long as Government ensures they have the infrastructure and opportunities they need to do so. Warwickshire is one of just five regions we have selected to put this to the test. On the back of our £2.4 million investment in new work premises and training opportunities, we expect to boost the rural economy by a massive £50 million creating over 500 jobs and 120 new businesses.”
Councillor Alan Cockburn, Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Sustainable Communities and LEP board member, said:
“The Government funding will boost the rural economy in this area and act as a catalyst to enable businesses to grow and unlock further investment. The county has such a strong history of technology and innovation and the Rural Growth Network will ensure rural enterprises have the support, resource and expertise to develop.
“The Network will enhance our rural infrastructure and will be very much at the heart of the work of the Local Enterprise Partnership’s Going for Growth strategy. We are already building many proactive relationships with businesses in Warwickshire and are working to help them to overcome barriers to growth and thrive in the long term.”
On Rural Roadshows, Defra Ministers learn directly from rural communities and businesses about the support they need from Government, and when Government should step back and let them thrive.
Environment Minister David Heath continued:
“I am looking forward to meeting and listening to the views of local people during my Rural Roadshow in Warwickshire and learning more about the steps Government can take to make rural areas even better places in which to live and work.”
Today, Mr Heath will visit the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board to listen to advice on the further action Government can take to increase food exports, encourage more young people into farming and increase the competitiveness and sustainability of the farming industry.
The Government is determined to provide the infrastructure needed for businesses to have just as many opportunities to grow in a rural area as they would do in a town. To find out more about the support needed to achieve this, Mr Heath will visit GEA Farm Technologies, a milking machine manufacturer, which moved its headquarters from Milton Keynes to Rural Warwickshire last month.
The Rural Roadshow will also bring Mr Heath to Valefresco, a salad producer, that is growing varieties of lettuces that have historically been imported. His engagement will help Government identify the best ways to enable other British growers to take new opportunities in both the home and export markets.
Mr Heath’s Rural Roadshow will close with meeting with the Worcestershire and Warwickshire Rural and Farming Network. Across the country, 17 of these Networks have been set up by Government to give rural business and community leaders direct access to ministers. This is part of the Government’s promise, set out in the ‘rural contract’, that Government policy for rural areas will be shaped by direct engagement with the people who live and work there.
Pauline Yardley, Chair of the Worcestershire and Warwickshire Rural Farming Network, said:
“In our capacity as the local Rural Farming Network we will be meeting the minister face-to-face for the first time. We have previously had an opportunity to discuss some of the issues that affect rural communities and have been pleased with the responses we’ve had from Defra, so we are looking forward to meeting him visiting the areas where we live and work.”
The five areas have been chosen to deliver Rural Growth Networks: Wiltshire, Cumbria, Somerset and Devon, Durham and Northumberland, and Warwickshire. In total, Rural Growth Networks are expected to create a total of more than 3,000 jobs and 700 start-up businesses following a £15 million total Government investment.
Defra ministers have carried out numerous Rural Roadshows around the country over the past few months. To find out more, visit Rural Roadshows