Sussex’s rural businesses to bid for share of £3.2m funding

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Rural businesses across Sussex have the chance to apply for their share of £3.2m in EU and Government funding.

The LEADER programme, announced by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, will provide grants to small businesses, farmers, foresters and communities for projects that create jobs and grow the rural economy.

Funding has already been allocated to two Local Action Groups (LAGs).

The Sussex Downs & Coastal Plain LAG covering rural areas of Chichester district, Arun district and Hayling Island, received £1.5m, while the Central Sussex LAG covering rural areas of Horsham, Mid Sussex and Lewes districts, was given a £1.7m grant.

Both LAGs are made up of local people and organisations with knowledge of rural issues and their communities. They will decide which projects to fund, and this process will be supported by West Sussex County Council.

The previous LEADER scheme supported 153 projects and created 141 new jobs between 2008 and 2013. The new scheme will last until 2020.

Louise Goldsmith, leader at WSCC, said: “This is fantastic news for the rural economy here in West Sussex as we know how successful and well appreciated the previous LEADER scheme was.

“We want to get the message out to all rural businesses - and to anyone thinking of setting up their own business – we want you to apply.

“If you have an idea which you think will create a job, or benefit rural communities in any way, get in touch.”

David Hurst, chairman of the Central Sussex LAG, said: “LEADER is local people making sure that the money from Brussels goes direct to the grassroots of our countryside.

“Our area stretches from Pulborough in the west to Horsted Keynes in Mid-Sussex and Firle in Lewes district.

“There are thousands of small businesses included there, and not just farmers and foresters.

“Country people making their own way, often using the products of our area, can get direct help from LEADER to provide local jobs and boost the local economy.”

Mike de Lara, chairman of the Sussex Downs & Coastal Plain LAG, added: “The last LEADER programme was a great success and I am sure this new scheme will be just as successful in helping new businesses start up and existing businesses grow and create more jobs.”

To find out more visit www.businesswestsussex.co.uk/leadergrants email rdpeleader@westsussex.gov.uk or call 03302 228001.

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