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New Forest rural businesses to receive funding boost

18 August 2020

Businesses in the New Forest can now apply for a share of a new £82,000 grant fund targeted specifically at rural, small and medium-sized enterprises.

The New Forest Rural Fund is being launched today to support businesses through the Covid-19 pandemic who are looking to take their first steps to recovery. We are announcing grants for capital investment of between £2,500 and £50,000 representing up to 50 percent of the total project costs are available. The aim is to create and protect jobs, and businesses that can demonstrate a benefit to the New Forest’s rural economy including through development of local supply chains, creation of new products or services and an investment in skills will be prioritised.

Managed on our behalf by Natural Enterprise, the New Forest Rural Fund is being launched hot on the heels of the New Forest Business Resilience Fund. Since its launch in May, the New Forest Business Resilience Fund has supported 18 businesses in the area and awarded more than £35,000 of the initial investment in grant funding. This support has resulted in 22 jobs being made secure. Added to funds that we had already committed, today's announcement brings the total support for the New Forest’s rural businesses to £120,000 this financial year, and small and medium- sized enterprises (SMEs) in the New Forest are being strongly encouraged to apply.

Brian Johnson, our Chair and SME champion says: "With businesses in the Solent facing unprecedented uncertainty, we want to offer as much support as possible to ensure that they recover to be as strong, if not stronger than they were before. Last year's New Forest Brilliance in Business Awards demonstrated that there are so many businesses to celebrate here in the New Forest, and it is vital that this area continues to thrive, diversify and grow.”

New Forest District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economic Development Councillor Michael Harris says “Our rural businesses are a vital element of our local community; this new grant fund will provide critical funding to rural businesses which may have fallen outside the scope of the funding announced to date. Despite the challenging conditions of recent months, New Forest businesses are looking to grow and provide a boost for our local economy and with financial assistance this will strengthen their resilience and enable them to look forward with optimism. I would take this opportunity to thank Solent Local Enterprise Partnership for their continuing and greatly valued support for the New Forest business community”

Graham Biss, Managing Director of Natural Enterprise says: “The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership’s continued support for the New Forest’s rural sector is greatly appreciated and we are keen to support rural businesses which are investing for the future. The success of the fund is due to the strength of the projects we have been able to support and we are keen to receive further quality applications from rural businesses.”

Businesses wishing to apply or seek further information please click here.

A similar grant, the Isle of Wight Rural Fund is available for SMEs in the other highly agricultural area in the south of the LEP region. The funding for rural businesses seeks to support the Solent economy by providing grants with potential for economic growth, leveraging in private sector investment, creating or protecting jobs and assisting the rural sector.

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