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£3m scheme set to DRIVE up rural employment

25 March 2021

A new cross border grant scheme being launched by Norfolk County Council and Suffolk County Council is set to provide welcome support to businesses contributing to the rural economy.

The DRIVE scheme (Delivering Rural Investment, Vital Employment) is a two-year project designed to encourage and support sound business investment decisions. The project has received £3million of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund.

Expert mentors will be on hand to help businesses develop strong project and business plans. And to help put those into action, businesses will then be able to apply for grants of between £5k and £30k.

The aim is to help boost jobs as all applicants will need to put forward job creation as a result of their grant application. The scheme is open to existing and new businesses. New businesses looking to apply will have to be aiming to employ 3 new members of staff within the next three years.

Cllr Graham Plant, cabinet member for growing the economy, said: “DRIVE is part of a raft of support that we’re working to make available to help support Norfolk’s economy to emerge as strongly as possible from the current pressures brought by the pandemic.

“The focus of the DRIVE scheme is to help new and existing micro and small businesses who are aiming to grow. Creating new employment is a key driver."

From 31 March 2021 businesses will be able to visit the project's website to find a range of grants and funding that are available to eligible businesses: www.driveforbusiness.co.uk (link goes live 31 March).

Cllr. Nick Gowrley, Suffolk County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development said. “The last 12 months have been difficult for everyone, but the impact upon small and medium sized businesses across Suffolk has been keenly felt. It is my sincere hope that the DRIVE grant scheme will help rural businesses rediscover their confidence, dynamism and, with the help of the mentoring available, encourage them to invest in themselves and their workforce post pandemic.

“I have no doubt, given their passion, dedication and commitment to succeed, that we will see our rural business community recover and thrive once again.”

Further information

See more information on our DRIVE Programme page.

European Regional Development Fund

The project has received £3million of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.

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