The investment is expected to create 900 jobs and almost 500 new businesses in the area, which includes ‘enterprise hubs’ across the region. The county is one of five regions to benefit from the £165m programme of measures that the government hopes will tackle barriers to economic growth in rural areas, which include a shortage of business premises and poor broadband access.
The investment comes as the Agriculture Minister Jim Paice visits Cumbria as part of the Defra Rural Roadshow today.
He said: “There are particular challenges to running a business in a remote area. Too often, business people are held back by not being able to find work premises, having no access to superfast broadband, or being unable to expand their skills without travelling into a city. The Rural Growth Network will take down these barriers to growth and enable local businesses to turn their ambitions into reality. I look forward to visiting Blencathra Business Park today, where our investment will open new doors for rural entrepreneurs.
“My Rural Roadshow to Cumbria gives me an opportunity to hear first-hand not only about the challenges rural businesses face, but also of the innovative ideas that have made them a success. It’s all about listening to what works, and how the government can do more to enable rural businesses to achieve their economic potential and support thriving rural communities.”
In addition to the Defra Rural Roadshows, which give ministers direct acccess to rural communities and businesses, Defra has established 17 Rural and Farming Networks across the country to give community and business leaders the chance to shape rural policy by sharing advice and insights through a hotline to Government. Jim Paice will have his first meetings with the region’s two Rural and Farming Networks today, as well as meeting local farmers, councils and local enterprise partnerships.
Paice will also deliver the keynote speech at the first Dairy Farming in Cumbria conference in Penrith, which will focus on the challenges faced by farmers, growth opportunities and sharing best practice on farm management.