Rural start up businesses and ‘micro’ enterprises are to get a boost with the announcement of a special £100,000 fund to support smaller projects in the region.
Individuals or groups with a suitable new start up business or established micro enterprise looking to expand and develop in Teesdale, Weardale, West Derwentside or South Tynedale will be able to apply.
North Pennine Dales LEADER programme will be looking to businesses that will help to improve life in rural areas.
Sue Ellwood, Project Co-ordinator, North Pennine Dales LEADER, said: “Smaller businesses and projects have the potential to play a very important part in creating valuable jobs and bringing a whole range of benefits to rural communities.
“Often they just need a relatively small amount of funding to get started but it can be difficult to access that type of finance.
“We could find ourselves helping with anything from a facility such as a crafts workshop or some service for the community to equipment for a new manufacturing business.”
Businesses and projects will be able to apply for initial funding of up to £3000 with an additional £1000 available for each new full-time job created.
The minimum project value must be £5,000.
The five-year LEADER programme, which runs until 2013, has already supported more than 44 projects in the North Pennine Dales area.
They range from arts and adventure centres to a community radio station, village shop, steam railway and a cycle club.
She added: “We want to make sure that the funds we have allocated for micro enterprise provide real value for money and are distributed fairly across our area.
We are particularly interested in looking at projects that identify gaps in the market such as traditional skills, basic services or all-weather tourism activities.”
The deadline for the first round of funding is Friday May 20.