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£3 million to help Norfolk's rural economy grow

Norfolk County Council, 1 December 2023 22:55

Norfolk County Council wants to hear from small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) supporting the rural economy.

Through their £3m DRIVE programme, Delivering Rural Investment for Vital Employment, the County Council, in partnership with Suffolk County Council, has already awarded over £500,000 to rural businesses.

Cllr Graham Plant, Norfolk County Council's Cabinet Member for Growing the Economy, said: "Investing in our local rural businesses makes perfect economic sense.

"As we recover from the worst of the pandemic, we're already seeing the success stories coming through, whether it be funding for computer-controlled machinery, a frozen food truck or brewery equipment. And what's really exciting about all of these DRIVE mentored businesses is the creation of more jobs, helping to make Norfolk thrive."

Case study

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 company.

"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 when individual project finances may seem to constrict.

Available online and via their Swaffham showroom (by appointment only), the company now supply John Lewis and Partners with a small selection of their 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 new people.

"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."


DRIVE will offer businesses contributing to the rural economy in Norfolk and Suffolk 12 hours of business mentoring to create project and business plans, after which the applicant will be able to apply for a capital grant of between £5k and £30k, towards up to 40% of project costs. All applicants will need to put forward job creation as a result of their grant application. Existing and new businesses can apply. New businesses will need to be aiming at high growth, defined as forecasting to employ 3 new members of staff in the first 3 years of trading.

Decisions on grant awards will be made by Local Investment Boards that will consist of local volunteers with business experience or knowledge.

With all funding programmes there is specific eligibility criteria. If you are interested in applying, please contact the team and we will assess whether your project is eligible for DRIVE on a case-by-case basis before you are assigned a business mentor.

For more information go to: (opens new window)

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Last modified: 30 January 2024 13:31