RURAL businesses in Cheshire are being encouraged to apply for a share of £5.4 million in 2018.

The funding boost was announced at a rural business forum held by Cheshire East Council’s arms-length Skills and Growth Company, the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership, Cheshire West and Chester Council and the Rural Payments Agency – a government service set up to support the rural economy.

Businesses including farmers, foresters, rural enterprise communities and land managers can apply for business growth and development grants from a £2.4 million pot of money allocated to the ‘Leader’ programme, the Cheshire-wide scheme which distributes European funding in rural communities.

A further £2.4 million is available for business development, food processing and rural tourism through the Growth Programme which is administered by the Rural Payments Agency on behalf of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Rural businesses can also source faster broadband connectivity through a £600,000 voucher scheme worth up to £4,000 per company, as part of the Connecting Cheshire Digital Plus Programme.

George Hayes, chairman of the Skills and Growth Company said: “Our ongoing investment in rural broadband and skills will help to ensure Cheshire can retain its position as one of the best locations in the country for rural businesses.

“We are keen to see rural businesses enjoy an efficient broadband service and I would urge any companies that are considering expanding in the near future, to make contact and benefit from our support.”

For more information email or call 0300 123 5001.