The deadline is fast approaching for rural businesses and community groups to express their interest to receive funding from the Worcestershire LEADER programme.
The programme, delivered by Worcestershire County Council, is designed to help communities contribute to the local economy and help businesses to grow and create additional employment.
Expressions of Interest for the funding must be made before 25th May. After May the scheme will officially close and will remain closed, unless further funding becomes available. The grants already awarded range from between £2,500 - £20,000 for capital equipment.
An £11,660 grant from LEADER allowed Spot Loggins, a family-run ice cream company based in Worcestershire, to increase production four fold and take on two new workers.
Elsewhere, Alfrick & Lulsley Community Shop set up to address a lack of facilities and community focus in the village of Alfrick has been granted £22,000 towards building a permanent structure.
Spot Loggins was founded in 2004 and produces luxury ice cream using organic milk from the 800-acre Bretforton House Farm.
Phoebe Appleby from Spot Loggins said:
"LEADER has enabled us to take a giant step forward. We were treading water as far as our business development was concerned. In order to move on we needed to invest in new equipment to enable us to produce more ice cream in less time which, in turn, enabling us to approach larger customers and increase our sales and turnover."
The shop and café in Alfrick are being used as a community hub where locals and visitors meet and make friends, police officers hold a 'Surgery' once a month and young people are able to develop work experience to help qualify for the Duke of Edinburgh award. Once in a permanent building it is intended that the shop will be used to hold evening clubs, cookery courses and computer awareness courses.
Chris Liddell from Alfrick and Lulsley Community Shop said: "We are really excited that we have secured funding for a permanent building for our community shop and café. "Local people have really got behind this initiative and we have 80 volunteers and over 300 shareholders who have invested so far.
"Social isolation can be a real issue in rural areas, but the shop has given the village a focal point and the café is a great meeting place. There is an increased sense of community and taking care of each other, it's great!"
The shop will also offer a Post Office service and a café and as a result of the project a part time job will be created.
For more information regarding the project, please contact LEADER@worcestershire.gov.uk