Food and drink manufacturers, holiday home owners, tourist attraction managers, and those running ‘low carbon’ and hi-tech firms turned out in force for the first ever D2N2 Rural Means Business Conference.
Around 100 people attended the free event held at the RCAN (Rural Community Action Nottinghamshire) Newstead Centre, in Newstead Village, yesterday (March 26). It was organised by the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), a private sector led partnership between businesses, local authorities and higher education institutions which helps drive economic growth and create jobs in Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.
Those attending the event heard from expert speakers – representing Rural Community Action Nottinghamshire, DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), the LEADER programme in the Peak District and D2N2 itself – about current funding opportunities to help rural enterprises.
These include the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), which forms part of a £214million European Structural and Investment Funds package announced this month (March) for the D2N2 area, and the LEADER funding programme for specific rural areas within the D2N2 catchment.
Workshops discussing rural business involvement in food and drink, tourism, renewables (low carbon and sustainable energy generation) and broadband provision were also run as part of the day-long event.
Sarah Coverdale is Director of Matlock-based business The Tasting Ladies, which runs tasting and sales sessions, promoting independent food and drink producers’ products to the public and buyers.She said: “Our clients have a loyal customer base but may not have the time or resources to widen that, which is where we come in. The rural conference has been good for opening up your eyes to the opportunities out there.”
The Original Bakewell Pudding Shop, in Bakewell, Derbyshire (Right)
Andrew Critchlow, Derbyshire County Advisor for the National Farmers Union, said there had been plenty of information in the event to take back to his members.
Katie Chan and Paul Kilmister, also at the D2N2 Rural Means Business Conference, plan to develop a new Vale of Belvoir holiday spot near Newark. Under the company name Kilvington Lakes, it would offer accommodation and various activities including disabled access sailing.
Commenting on the D2N2 conference, Katie of Thurgarton, added: “It’s all been very useful. We were advised to come along today by the CLA (Country Land and Business Association).”
Rob Crowder – Chair of the D2N2 Rural Reference Group, a D2N2 Board Member and Chief Executive for Rural Community Action Nottinghamshire – was a key speaker at yesterday’s conference.
He said afterwards: “It’s important for people to realise the hard work that has been going on in the background to provide rural businesses with help and funding.”
Lindsay Allen – Senior Programme Manager for the D2N2 Growth Hub and one of the conference organisers – added: “This is the first time we’ve run a Rural Conference and I was very pleased with the turnout, the variety of businesses represented and the engagement from delegates on the day.
“Rural businesses are a key part of the life of the countryside and a major contributor to the economy of the D2N2 area. I think those who attended our event gained some real insights into the help and funding which is out there for them.”
To learn more about the work of the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership go to its website at www.d2n2lep.org/Home