RURAL businesses around York with expansion plans for 2018 could get their hands on a share of more than £5 million from Leeds City Region to help realise their ambitions.

The money is on offer from a grant pot designed to help accelerate growth of the rural economy around the region - which covers York as well as West Yorkshire councils, Selby, Harrogate and Craven. Businesses in food production, tourism or farming could all be eligible for the cash help.

Roger Marsh, who is chairman of the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and chairman of a sub-committee for European Structural fund investments, said:

“Rural business is a vital source of jobs and growth, with 136,000 people in the city region employed in tourism-related businesses alone.”

The early months for the year are a perfect time for those considering an expansion in the year ahead to make a bid for the fund, he added.

“At this time of year many business leaders take the opportunity to review their ambitions for the next 12 months and we are looking forward to receiving applications for exciting projects which deliver growth and jobs.”

The funding could be used to help create new infrastructure encouraging business to grow and diversify.

Grants are available in three areas - business development, food processing and rural tourism infrastructure.

The cash could be used for projects which will encourage tourists to come, to stay longer and to spend more money in rural areas, as well as help for businesses looking to grow or diversify, including farmers wanting to move into non-agricultural activity.

Companies in the food processing sector may also qualify for support to invest in new equipment or new buildings, Mr Marsh said.

The money is coming through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, which is administered by the Rural Payments Agency in partnership with the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership.

Grants are available to pay for, on average, 40 per cent of the cost of any project with applicants expected to fund the remaining 60 per cent through other sources.

The minimum grant is £35,000.

The deadline for applications is the end of May, information is available from the Defra Rural Services helpline on 03000 200 301 or email

Companies can also find more information on business support and funding in Leeds City Region from the LEP Growth Service on 0113 348 1818 or by emailing