Rural growth for Warwickshire

Around 500 new jobs will be created in the rural parts of Warwickshire after a new initiative was announced by the Chancellor in today’s Budget.

A pilot Rural Growth Network is to be established in Coventry and Warwickshire which will see 150 business start ups over the next three years and provide an estimated £50 million boost to the regional economy.

A new Rural Innovation and Technology Centre will be established at Stoneleigh along with enterprise centres in the south of the county at Shipston-on-Stour and at Atherstone in North Warwickshire which will offer rural-friendly enterprise support.

The Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) bid led by Warwickshire County Council, Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce and the Royal Agricultural Society for England will also see the showcasing of low carbon and environmental technologies to encourage their adoption by rural businesses.

As part of the pilot Rural Growth Network, particular emphasis will also be placed on overcoming barriers to enterprise frequently faced by women-led rural businesses.

Denys Shortt, chair of LEP, said: “This is fantastic news for Coventry and Warwickshire and truly shows the strength of the commitment and work that has been brought together under the Local Enterprise Partnership. Partners have worked extremely hard on this project.”

Councillor Alan Cockburn, Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Sustainable Communities and LEP board member, said: “For Coventry and Warwickshire to be selected by the Government as a Rural Growth Network is a welcome boost for the area.

“Warwickshire has a strong history of technology and innovation and the establishment of this network is at the heart of the work we have been doing with the rural task force of the Local Enterprise Partnership to further stimulate growth and support business.”

Louise Bennett, chief executive of Chamber, said: “This is a real recognition by the Government that businesses in rural areas do face some barriers to enterprise and growth that this work will seek to tackle.

“The focus of the Warwickshire Rural Growth Network will be to make accessible to rural enterprises good quality enterprise support whilst linking many of our rural businesses to the developing low carbon and environmental technologies that sit within our great universities.”

Denis Chamberlain, chair and chief executive of RASE, added: “I am delighted to hear that the Government is supportive of some exciting new developments at Stoneleigh Park including the creation of a new Innovation & Technology Centre linked to a number of smaller enterprise centres.

“Stoneleigh Park sits at the heart of the UK’s rural and agricultural sector and this announcement is just one part of a much wider programme of development at Stoneleigh, which already houses over 60 businesses and continues to host some large scale agricultural and other events.”