Suffolk launch for £200m boost for rural economy from DEFRA

Rural Affairs Minister Lord Gardiner, left, speaks with Oliver Paul from Suffolk Food Hall, right. P

Rural Affairs Minister Lord Gardiner, left, speaks with Oliver Paul from Suffolk Food Hall, right. Picture: PAUL GEATER - Credit: Archant

The government's rural affairs' minister has outlined a £200m boost for businesses in the countryside during a visit to the Suffolk Food Hall near Ipswich.

Lord Gardiner said some of the funding would be used to improve broadband links for rural businesses while it would also be used for investment by farms, food businesses, or other rural industries.

He used a meeting with local business leaders and council representatives to outline how the Funding for rural businesses that will generate thousands of jobs and provide new support to expand and improve their premises was being announced by Lord Gardiner during a visit to the county.

Announcing the latest round of Rural Development Programme funding, Lord Gardiner confirmed that funding will be available to support new rural broadband projects, and provide significant amounts of funding to on-farm businesses to invest in new infrastructure such as new buildings and machinery.

The current Rural Development Programme for England is expected to generate 6,750 new jobs. Already more than 1,400 projects have been agreed which are expected to create over 2,300 jobs.

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The grants will also fund landowners to improve farm productivity, and invest in rural tourism opportunities.

Lord Gardiner said: 'One in three businesses in this country are based in the countryside, and this government is committed to providing the support they need to create a strong and prosperous rural economy.'

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He said the broadband progress in Suffolk was among the best in the country – and hoped that the county council would be able to tap into the £200m to help extend the service to the last few remote properties.

Lord Gardiner was making the announcement during a visit to the Suffolk Cookhouse project in Ipswich, which received £422,000 in 2012 to open a new food hall.

The hall is now one of the biggest tourism hubs in the region, bringing together local artists and food producers, and creating 45 jobs.

Oliver Paul from the Suffolk Food Hall said the government support was vital in allowing the business to expand: 'At the time we created 45 jobs and there are now 113 people employed here and 13 other businesses operating from the cook house,' he said.

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