Isle of Wight: Solent LEP announces boost for Island’s rural businesses

Following the success of the Isle of Wight Rural Business Resilience Fund, the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has opened the Isle of Wight Rural Fund. Designed to benefit the Island’s rural economy, businesses can now apply for a share of £105,000.

The Isle of Wight Rural Fund has been established to support businesses through the Covid-19 pandemic and as they look to take their first steps to recovery. Grants of between £2,500 and £50,000, representing up to 50% of the total project costs are available. A key aim is to create or protect jobs, and businesses that can generate or save a higher number will be prioritised.

Managed by Natural Enterprise on behalf of the LEP, the Isle of Wight Rural Fund is being launched hot on the heels of the Isle of Wight Rural Business Resilience Fund. It supported 37 Island businesses and awarded more than £75,000 of the initial investment in grant funding since April, and it also resulted in over 100 jobs being secured. Added to funds that the LEP has already committed, today’s announcement brings the total support for the Island’s rural businesses to £330,000 this financial year, and small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) on the Island are being strongly encouraged to apply.

The partnership between the LEP and Natural Enterprise has already seen over £1 million in grants awarded on the Island since January 2016.

Brian Johnson, the chair for the Solent LEP and SME champion said: “We’re continuing to offer businesses as much support as possible during this challenging time, while also cementing the Solent region’s position as the UK’s capital of coastal renaissance and of revitalising coastal communities.

“Having spent time earlier this year visiting some rural businesses on the Island, we are pleased that many of them have already taken advantage of the grants on offer. The funds are already making a difference on the ground and crucially keeping Islanders in employment. Decisions for the funding are made by a panel consisting of members from the Island, so local knowledge and expertise form a large part of the decision-making process.”

Graham Biss, managing director of Natural Enterprise said: “The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership’s continued support for the Island’s rural sector is greatly appreciated and we are keen to support rural businesses which are investing for the future. The success of the fund is due to the strength of the projects we have been able to support and we are keen to receive further quality applications from rural businesses.”

The Isle of Wight has the largest rural sector in the Solent LEP’s area, and a similar grant, the New Forest Rural Business Resilience Fund is available for SMEs in the other predominantly rural area to the west of the LEP region. These funds seek to support the Solent economy by providing grants with potential for economic growth, leveraging private sector investment, creating or protecting jobs and assisting the rural sector.

Click here for more information and to apply for these rural funds.