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"There's no catch" to business growth funding - can your business benefit?

Fenland's rural and agricultural businesses have been urged to take advantage of grant funding to help their businesses grow.

Fenland for Business Oct 31

A Fenland for Business networking event, held in Chatteris on Tuesday, October 31, heard very few district businesses were coming forward with grant applications, despite thousands of pounds of funding being readily available.

Speaker Martin Lutman, Eastern Agri-Tech programme manager at the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Fund provides grants of £10,000 to £150,000 to support product development and improve agricultural productivity. But he revealed a distinct lack of applications from Fenland businesses, with only one of 82 projects approved in the last four years being in the district.

"I'm not sure why Fenland businesses aren't applying as there is no catch - it's free money," he said. "Businesses in the Fenland area need to see that investment into their businesses isn't just important, it's critical."

Kieran Carr, LEADER programme manager at Cambridgeshire ACRE, also said the Cambridgeshire Fens LEADER programme had grants from £2,500 available to support a range of projects which benefit the rural economy, create jobs and improve local services.

Almost 50 per cent of the £1.4 million LEADER funding pot has already been awarded, with businesses only having until March 2019 to apply.

A former farmer himself, Mayor of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, James Palmer, also addressed attendees on his plans for Fenland.

He revealed that Cambridgeshire generates £5 billion a year for the nation, and with further investment to improve access to the road network and address a 100,000 homes deficit; the area would be ready to take advantage of new opportunities.

"I'm absolutely certain that with investment in infrastructure, our economy and apprentices, our future workforce, that we will become an even more successful and more dynamic region," he said.

The event, entitled 'Agri-Food Success in Fenland', also heard from Claire Wright, a rural surveyor for the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), on how landowners and agricultural companies could improve profitability by using their land for different purposes.

Councillor Ralph Butcher, Fenland District Council's Portfolio Holder for Business, said: "Agriculture is one of Fenland's most established sectors so it's vital we spread the word about grant funding available to help businesses in the industry continue to grow, adapt and thrive across our region.

"We want Fenland businesses to benefit from these pots of grant funding so would urge local business leaders to take a few moments out of their busy schedules to see if they could gain from these funds. The Council, LEP and partners are available to advise if required."

Fenland for Business, the economic development arm of Fenland District Council, holds the free bi-monthly networking events at the South Fens Business Centre in Chatteris.

Any businesses wanting to discuss business support or funding opportunities can contact the Fenland for Business team on 01354 622506, by email at: business@fenland.gov.uk or via the website at: www.fenlandforbusiness.co.uk

For more information about grants from the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Fund visit: http://www.gcgp.co.uk/agri-tech-grants and for the Cambridgeshire Fens LEADER programme visit: https://cambsfensleader.wordpress.com/applying-for-grant-funding/.

For information on support, diversification or membership of the CLA visit: www.cla.org.uk

Article added: November 6, 2017