Feb 11 2014

North East Business Rural Growth Support


PRE-START and established SMEs in rural parts of East Durham and Sedgefield are being urged to tap into a support programme created to encourage business growth.

The North East Rural Growth Network Business Support Programme is being jointly funded by DEFRA and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

New and established B2B companies which are eligible can access support for consultancy aid in a number of areas including marketing and communications, strategy planning and training with up to 13 hours of assistance available. They can also register for workshops and events organised as part of the programme.

Commissioned by Northumberland County Council, the programme is being delivered by East Durham Business Service with the aim of creating a thriving entrepreneurial culture in rural areas of East Durham and Sedgefield by removing some of the barriers to business creation and growth which currently exist.

Sarah Marshall, East Durham Business Service’s Rural Enterprise Development Officer, is overseeing the delivery of the project. She said: “There are businesses across East Durham and Sedgefield which are eligible for help from the Business Support Programme but either don’t know about it or have heard of it but assume they won’t qualify because they don’t consider themselves rural.

“There are a number of ways in which a pre-start or growing SME could benefit, whether they would like support to develop a brand or website, help putting their profile out to the media or perhaps guidance on how best to develop a strategy to drive forward expansion.

“They can also attend some of the niche and exciting workshops and masterclasses we’re hosting such as the one later this month on social networking and how businesses can and should be using it to support their aims and objectives.

Some of the businesses which have already benefited from the North East Rural Growth Network Business Support Programme include a digital provider, a clothing company and a tea producer.

Priority will be given to B2B companies in sectors including:

  • Knowledge intensive business services (KIBS)
  • Tourism
  • Culture and creative
  • Food and drink manufacture
  • Energy and environment
  • Digital and ICT
  • Social enterprises

However, businesses across all sectors will be considered if they demonstrate real growth potential.

The Business Support Programme was launched in July 2013 and is being run as a pilot until March 2015.

The towns and villages in East Durham which fall within the rural boundaries of the Business Support Programme are parts of Peterlee, Blackhall, Castle Eden, Easington, Wingate, Thornley, Murton, Haswell, Wheatley Hill, Shotton, while in Sedgefield Mordon, the Trimdons, Fishburn, Bishop Middleham, Chilton, Rushyford, Byers Green and Kirk Merrington, as well as Sedgefield itself, are all eligible.

***The two-day masterclass on February 20 and 28 will show businesses how social media can support their marketing plan, how they can use it to research new leads, increase followers and create compelling content that will engage customers. It is being held from 9.30am until 4.30pm and places are limited so early booking is recommended. To find out more please contact Sarah Marshall on 0191 5863366.***

For more information about either East Durham Business Service or the North East Rural Growth Network visit


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