Published: 11:11, 27 May 2020
| Updated: 11:14, 27 May 2020
A multi-million pound fund designed to boost the rural economy has continued to invest in projects during the pandemic.
The Kent Downs and Marshes and East Kent Leader Programme is part of the rural development programme for England which is part-funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the European Union.
It has so far provided more than £5million for rural businesses and communities over the last five year, supporting more than 100 projects and creating 200 jobs.
Over the past three weeks, despite the health crisis, it has invested close to £87,000 in four projects across the two areas.
Businesses benefitting include an engineering firm, a vineyard, a farm and a charitable trust.
Mike Whiting, KCC’s cabinet member for economic development, said: “It is good to see that, despite the unprecedented and uncertain times we are experiencing, there are rural businesses that still have the confidence to invest and develop their businesses looking towards a recovery.
“Whenever this comes, these businesses will be in a good position to take full advantage of it. KCC is pleased to be part of the Leader programme in East Kent and the Kent Downs and Marshes that is still proactive in developing and funding projects that help the rural economy.”
Huw Jarvis, programme manager for the two Leader areas, said: “We are still getting a stream of enquiries for funding from the programme, despite these strange times. We have a small amount of funding left, but the way it is going we may ask the Rural Payments Agency for additional funds from elsewhere in England as we can certainly use it.”
To qualify for grants, bosses, entrepreneurs and community groups need to propose a project that will make a difference to the running of their business and their immediate rural community.