A new £500,000 fund has been launched to support agri-food businesses and rural micro -enterprises across Cornwall.
The Rural Business Investment Scheme aims to help create jobs and boost productivity in small businesses across the county.
The scheme will support up to 40% of successful applicants' agreed project costs with a £10,000 minimum investment available requiring a total project value of at least £25,000. Grants will be capped at £25,000 except in "exceptional" circumstances.
The scheme will look to prioritise support for rural firms employing fewer than 10 people. It will also target businesses that fall within sectors including agri-food – which are defined as those processing or adding value to primary agricultural, horticultural or forestry products.
Also eligible to apply are those businesses within the marine, ICT, manufacturing, tourism, energy and environment sectors.
The scheme will be managed by Cornwall Council's economic development arm the Cornwall Development Company, which said that applications from businesses in areas not currently eligible for Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) funding will be also be prioritised.
Stephen Rushworth, Cornwall Council's portfolio holder for economy and regeneration, said: "This funding supports vital business development and growth and will enable companies to improve productivity and create jobs despite the tough economic climate."
The scheme is being delivered by the CDC in partnership with the Rural Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Partnership Board and Cornwall Rural Community Council. The project is part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development 2007-2013, Defra and Cornwall Council.
All prospective projects must demonstrate proposals that will result in business development and growth, including job creation, increased efficiency, profitability and benefits to the rural economy.
David Rodda, rural delivery manager for the CDC said: "The RBIS provides another opportunity for rural businesses in Cornwall to access RDPE funds before the programme closes to new applications at the end of this year.
"The delivery timescales are tight, but we feel confident that there are enough strong proposals being developed to utilise the funding within the given time frame and importantly to deliver positive impacts for the rural economy."
The scheme is now open and successful applicants must be able to have completed their project and submitted claims by December 31.