Rural businesses reap the rewards of diversification

14 January 2022

Rural businesses have diversified their operations, creating 196 local jobs and bringing 68 new products to market by opening farm shops, glamping facilities, Christmas tree farms and more.

Today [14 January 2022], the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) celebrates 34 projects across Milton Keynes, Bedfordshire, and Northamptonshire, which have secured over £5.5 million worth of investment through the Government’s RDPE Growth programme.

The government’s growth programme opened for applications in 2019 aiming to create new jobs, boost tourism and unlock growth in rural areas. The funding could be used to purchase equipment and machinery to enable business growth and development.

The 34 local projects created 196 jobs and brought 68 new products to market. From new Glamping sites and facilities to Christmas tree farms and farm shops, the funding provided enabled businesses to diversify and grow.

Hilary Chipping, Chief Executive at SEMLEP comments, “The rural economy plays a vital role in the South East Midlands. A quarter of our residents live in rural areas, with a third of our VAT registered businesses being based there. With the pandemic highlighting the importance of community and the value of the outdoors, these new facilities have not only created jobs, but they’ve also created pillars within our economy. I’m proud that SEMLEP has played a small part in the success of the 34 projects receiving funding.”

To support the development of local applications, SEMLEP held a series of informational webinars and offered dedicated application support.

Ken Christy, Chair of the SEMLEP Rural Group adds, “These results show the power of local intervention and strong partnership working with the Rural Payments Agency. They also indicate the variety and depth of our Rural Economy.”