Programme helps drive rural businesses to success with £2.2m funding pot

Harry Thompson, managing director of the Wrought Iron and Brass Bed Company sitting on one of the beds

Harry Thompson, managing director of the Wrought Iron and Brass Bed Company, which has been supported by the DRIVE team’s mentoring service - Credit: WROUGHT IRON AND BRASS BED COMPANY

Businesses keen to grow are invited to apply for free mentoring and capital grants of up to £40,000.
Funding of £2.2m is available now for small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) supporting the rural economy.
Norfolk County Council’s DRIVE programme, Delivering Rural Investment for Vital Employment, funded by the
European Regional Development Fund, in partnership with Suffolk County Council, is offering businesses contributing to the rural economy in Norfolk and Suffolk, 12 hours of business mentoring to create project and business plans.
The applicant will then be able to apply for a capital grant of between £5-£40k, towards up to 40pc of project costs. Applicants will need to demonstrate job creation as a result of the grant application. Existing and new
businesses can apply.
Harry Thompson is the managing director of a family-run business, the Wrought Iron and Brass Bed Company, based in Wolferton on the Sandringham Estate. The company has been supported by the DRIVE team’s mentoring service to explore ways of developing the business.
Harry said: “The expert mentoring advice enabled us to consider ways to do things differently and identify new markets. Having somebody to support your decision-making allows you the space and confidence to think creatively, even if individual project finances may seem constricting.”
Available online and via its Swaffham showroom (by appointment only), the company now supplies John Lewis and Partners with a small selection of its iron beds.
Harry said: “Despite weathering the storm of the pandemic, we are already feeling the benefits from DRIVE and are now entering negotiations with markets overseas. We never envisaged it would be this successful.
“The grant funding has allowed us to offer new products that have been designed and manufactured in brass, nickel and copper, which can be seen in our new showroom in Swaffham. In the last month we’ve also increased our team from 13 to 16 and will be recruiting for another three.
“I would strongly recommend DRIVE to businesses like ours. What’s the worst that could happen? Do it! Unless you ask the question, you don’t know what’s available.”
For more information go to www.driveforbusiness.co.uk or email driveteam@norfolk.gov.uk