The DEFRA Minister George Eustace today (07/02/14) opened a new £1 million workspace hub at Home Farm, Bicton College, which only a year ago received £300,000 of Rural Growth Network capital funding. The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for farming, food and marine environment travelled to the county to offer his support for a range of local business initiatives. The visit draws attention to the work which is underway to support the rural economy and to help businesses highlight their needs and access help and advice. The Farmhouse Business Centre project at Bicton College has given a new lease of life to the redundant farmhouse and will provide rural office space for new and expanding businesses. There has been a lot of interest locally in the Centre which will offer businesses with apprenticeship opportunities, and local employment, as well as access to business support through the Heart of the South West Business Support scheme. David Henley, Principal at Bicton College, said: The converted farmhouse on Bicton's Home Farm has been transformed via this project and now provides premium space for emerging businesses. It is vital that assistance is given to stimulate the economy in rural areas and our College sees itself at the heart of this initiative. Endorsement by the Minister adds energy to the project and we offer him a very warm welcome. The event, organised by Devon County Council, is part of The Heart of the South West LEP Rural Growth Network (RGN) Pilot. As one of five pilot areas chosen to promote economic growth in the countryside, it was awarded £2.9 million from DEFRA to develop a network of rural enterprise hubs to support micro and small businesses across rural Devon and Somerset. It is expected to help create around 1,300 jobs in the area.
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