prosperous rural communities

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					                                                                                                                           Advantage West Midlands

                                                                         prosperous rural communities
                                                                         realising the potential of the West Midlands Region
Geoff Brown, Bridgeford Hall Farm, Staffordshire, West Midlands Region
Advantage West Midlands
The Regional Development Agency (RDA) for the West Midlands Region

                                                                                                            To Manchester
Advantage West Midlands is the Regional                                                                      & North West                                                                            To Leeds
                                                                                                                                                                                                   & North East
Development Agency (RDA) for the West
Midlands and one of nine RDAs in England.

Our role is to lead the economic development
of the West Midlands Region, working
alongside public, private and voluntary sector                                                                             Stoke-on-Trent

partners to help our region to prosper. We build
                                                                                      Market Drayton
upon our region’s many strengths and address                                                                          M6                Uttoxeter
our unique challenges.
                                                                                                                                  Sta ord           Burton-upon-Trent

Our key task is to lead the development and                                         TELFORD & WREKIN

delivery of the West Midlands Economic                                 Shrewsbury                                                           Lich eld
Strategy (WMES), the framework for                                                          Telford                                                             Tamworth

our region’s growth. Through working in                                                              Wolverhampton
                                                                                                                                        Walsall           M6 Toll
partnership, we speak with one voice for the                                            Bridgnorth                         Dudley
region and make a far greater impact than                 Bishops Castle
                                                                                                               Stourbridge                                                   M6
we would acting in isolation.
                                                                                                           Kidderminster                             Solihull
                                                                     Ludlow                                                                                                                Rugby
We have an annual budget of over
£300 million to invest in the West Midlands                                                                                 M5

Region and, at any one time, we manage                         Leominster
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  To London
around 2,500 projects which change the lives                                                                                                              Stratford-upon-Avon
                                                                                                                                                                                     M40                          & South East
of people across our region. We drive economic                                                        Great Malvern                                                 WARWICKSHIRE
development by identifying where we can make                   Hereford
the greatest impact, either by targeting specific
needs or investing in success.                                                                       M50                                                                                        To Oxford,
                                                                                                                                                                                              London & South
                                                                              Ross-on-Wye                                             To Bristol
For more information visit                                                                                    & South West

Cover image: Staffordshire based farmer Geoff Brown (pictured)                      Geoff is growing 20 hectares of the miscanthus cane, a
is a Director of BiEcc – the company set up as the miscanthus                       non-invasive, sterile, perennial grass at his farm in Great
‘supply manager’ for the £6.5 million Eccelshall Biomass                            Bridgeford. BiEcc aim to plant 3,400 hectares of the crop
project. The pioneering scheme to develop the UK’s first                            within 25 miles of Eccelshall between 2007-1010.
successful bio-energy power plant in Staffordshire is supported
by a Dti Bio-Energy Capital Grant Fund and £925,000 from
Advantage West Midlands.

2                                       Advantage West Midlands – prosperous rural communities
rural renaissance
realising the potential of the rural West Midlands Region

We’re committed to improving access to opportunity and to boosting the number and quality of jobs
available within sustainable rural communities. Through funding and business support activities across
the sub regions of Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire and Staffordshire we are
meeting the unique challenges and opportunities faced by the rural communities of the Region. The ‘Rural
Renaissance Framework’ sets out our integrated approach to rural development. It demonstrates our role
and strategy for implementing the West Midlands Economic Strategy (WMES) in the rural West Midlands.


Advantage West Midlands               It is recognised that the Region’s           • Craven Arms in Shropshire has
provides support through various      market towns play a key role in the            benefited from £5 million funding
initiatives including the Rural       revitalisation of the West Midlands.           from the programme to complete
Regeneration Zone, tackling           Advantage West Midlands set up the             a £7.5 million office, retail and
                                      Market Towns Programme to support              residential development. The site
accessibility through the Rural
                                      participating towns with financial             includes incubator units for small
Access to Services Programme,
                                      packages leading to investment of up           and medium size enterprises, as well
the Market Towns Programme,           to £1 million. Since 2001 the Agency           as housing facilities for the Primary
the Rural Development                 has operated a programme of support            Care Trust (PCT) and Shropshire
Programme for England (RDPE),         worth £32m for towns that demonstrate          County Council. Other partners in
the Region’s Farming and Food         need and the capacity to respond to            the development were Government
delivery plan and by establishing     opportunities for regeneration. To date,       Office for the West Midlands,
strong evidence to underpin its       partnerships in 31 towns have been             South Shropshire District Council
                                      assisted to undertake Healthchecks,            and the Housing Corporation.
                                      develop Action Plans and to translate
                                      these into programmes of economic            • The Riverside area of Evesham is one
                                      development actions:                           of the projects in the Worcestershire
                                                                                     town that has benefited from a
                                      • Pershore No. 8 – this £1.4m                  total of £525,000 Advantage
                                        multipurpose arts centre in the              West Midlands funding. This has
                                        Worcestershire town received                 helped to deliver major economic
                                        £162,000 from the programme, with            development projects including a
                                        other contributions coming from              Heritage Economic Regeneration
                                        Pershore Market Town Partnership,            Scheme to restore Georgian
                                        the local Town Council, Wychavon             architecture, and a wider town centre
                                        District Council and community               enhancement scheme incorporating
                                        fundraising.                                 a new traffic management system.

                                      • Jobs have been safeguarded and
                                        new business has been attracted
                                        to Leek with £130,000 of support
                                        from the programme for a £300,000
                                        modernisation of Leek Cattle
                                        Market - one of Staffordshire’s few
                                        remaining livestock markets.

                                Advantage West Midlands – prosperous rural communities                                       3
The Advantage West Midlands funded               • Residents from Highley in Shropshire      The RRZ funds Redundant Building
Rural Regeneration Zone (RRZ) covers               benefited from £3.5 million of            Grants that help bring derelict buildings
nearly all of Herefordshire, most of               funding to construct the Severn           back into productive economic
Shropshire and some of Worcestershire.             Centre, a multi-use community             use. Grants, of up to 25 per cent of
The RRZ is committed to a vision of                centre that acts as a focus for the       conversion costs, are available to
helping to create a thriving economy,              delivery of a wide range of services      eligible companies in Herefordshire,
healthy environment and a good                     in Highley and surrounding areas.         Shropshire and Worcestershire.
quality of life for everyone who lives or
works in the areas covered. It has an            • Phase 1 of the 24,000 sq ft Ludlow        • Two dilapidated farm buildings
allocated budget of circa £30 million              Eco Business Park in Shropshire             have been given a new lease of
between 2006-2009 to help make                     has opened for business this year           life on The Duchy of Cornwall
this vision reality. Through the Rural             and demand for units has been high.         estate, south of Hereford.
Regeneration Zone we aim to connect                Partners in the ‘environmentally            The transformation was made
opportunities with the recognised                  friendly’ office space development          possible by a £62,000 Redundant
needs of the area, by supporting                   scheme include South Shropshire             Building Grant administered by
a variety of projects including:                   District Council, Advantage West            Herefordshire Council. The flagship
                                                   Midlands and the Rural Regeneration         environmentally friendly office project
• Enterprise HQ in Shrewsbury,                     Zone. The project has also received         has safeguarded and created 17
  Shropshire opened its doors in April             funding from the European Regional          high quality jobs in Herefordshire.
  2007 to provide a business ‘home                 Development Fund (ERDF).
  from home’ for rural entrepreneurs.                                                        • Following the success of this project
  This initiative is run in conjunction          • The £2.5 million Ludlow Food Centre,        the Redundant Building Grant scheme
  with Home HQ, Shropshire,                        a regional centre of excellence             has, with the support of Advantage
  which provides goods, services,                  for farm based retailing and food           West Midlands, been extended
  publicity and promotion for home                 processing, opened in Spring of 2007        to cover parts of Staffordshire,
  based business. In partnership                   following support of £160,000 from          Warwickshire and Solihull.
  with Shropshire Enterprise                       the Rural Regeneration Zone. The
  Partnership the scheme received                  project is led by the Earl of Plymouth
  support of £470,000 from the                     Estates and offers a high quality
  Rural Regeneration Zone.                         retail store, eight food production
                                                   units and a centre offering training
                                                   in farm retail and processing.

4                                         Advantage West Midlands – prosperous rural communities
Abigail Humphries manages the websites of Porter and Porter,        Porter and Porter were able to set up their business in
a publishing house in rural Worcestershire. Porter and Porter       this unique rural setting as a result of the Advantage West
was one of the first businesses in Worcestershire to take           Midlands sponsored Rural Broadband Access Project. The
advantage of a Redundant Buildings Grant, a resource                project managed by the Advantage West Midlands funded
managed by the Rural Regeneration Zone. The Zone,                   West Midlands Networking Company is working toward
which covers large parts of Herefordshire and Shropshire            satellite technology being used to link up more rural areas of
as well as wards within the Wyre Forest and Malvern Hills in        the West Midlands Region to broadband. The aim is to provide
Worcestershire, works at a local level to improve the economy of    100% of homes and businesses in the West Midlands Region
the remotest rural parts of our region. The resulting conversion    with access to broadband technology by the end of 2006.
of a previously disused building has led to the creation a
number of jobs for local people in the Knighton on Teme area.

                                                                                                                                     Abigail Humphries, Porter and Porter, Knighton on Teme, Worcestershire

                                       Advantage West Midlands – prosperous rural communities                                    5
Advantage West Midlands has a key                • From 2008 Advantage West                   • The Staffordshire based Biomass
role in contributing to the sustainability         Midlands will be introducing the             Project is a groundbreaking £6.5
of rural communities and supporting the            Rural Development Programme for              million development of the UK’s first
diversification of the rural economy.              England (RDPE). The programme will           successful bio-energy power plant
                                                   focus on collaborative activity within       using miscanthus or “elephant grass”
• Advantage West Midlands has                      the Environmental Technologies, Food         as fuel. Through a grant of £935,000
  supported the establishment of                   and Drink, Livestock, Tourism and            from Advantage West Midlands plus
  The Rural Access to Service                      Leisure and Social and Community             support from the DTi, DEFRA and
  Partnerships. Councils act as the                Action sectors. There will also be           private sector investment the
  lead authority for rural transport               support for the provision of small scale     project will enable 170 farms in the
  and access to services and the                   projects involving ‘basic services’ in       Shropshire/Staffordshire area to
  Partnerships enable service                      rural areas, village renovation and          diversify into energy crops. The project
  access providers to deliver their                projects promoting rural heritage and        is operated by Eccleshall Biomass
  own programmes to an agreed                      culture. A Regional Implementation           Ltd, a partnership of Raleigh Hall
  set of outputs and outcomes.                     Plan has been developed                      Properties and Talbott’s Heating Ltd.
                                                   collaboratively between Advantage
• A region wide Wheels to Work                                                                • Advantage West Midlands funds
                                                   West Midlands, Natural England,
  scheme to help young, unemployed                                                              a scheme enabling beef farmers
                                                   Forestry Commission, Government
  and disadvantaged people is                                                                   throughout the West Midlands Region
                                                   Office for the West Midlands
  supported by Advantage West                                                                   to benefit from a grant of 45% of the
                                                   (GOWM) and other key stakeholders.
  Midlands. This is part of a drive to                                                          purchase price of electronic cattle
  modernise delivery of rural transport          • A Region wide network of county              weighing scales. The equipment
  and to improve access to services.               based Rural Hubs to stimulate                helps to boost enterprise efficiency
  In 2006-2007 Wheels to Work                      business development has been                by ensuring cattle are presented at
  assisted 627 young people in rural               established. The hubs secure funding         the right weight for marketing.
  areas to get to work, training or full           for a huge range of projects, events,
  time education on a loaned scooter.              grants and advisory work on behalf         • is a business
                                                   of people and businesses making              initiative set up by the Warwickshire
• Advantage West Midlands has                                                                   and Worcestershire Rural Hubs.
                                                   their living in the countryside. Hub
  enabled the West Midlands Region                                                              The scheme has established a central
                                                   initiatives have led to the setting
  to become 100% broadband                                                                      distribution facility for the marketing
                                                   up of numerous specialist groups
  connected, through the Rural                                                                  and delivery of local and regional
                                                   with focussed objectives including
  Broadband Access Project                         improving the efficiency and                 food and drink products to homes
  and Remote Area Broadband                        profitability of livestock production,       and workplaces. Advantage West
  Inclusion Trial, which have tackled              providing business opportunities,            Midlands provides funding for the
  black spots in provision.                        business networking and promoting            project as well as the Worcestershire
                                                   the procurement of local food by             Economic Partnership and
                                                   large organisations and institutions.        Wychavon District Council.

6                                          Advantage West Midlands – prosperous rural communities
                                                               Sue Appleby (pictured) produces ‘Spot Loggins Country Ice             homes and workplaces operating under the business name
                                                               Cream’ made with organic milk and double cream from the      Other project funders include the Rural
                                                               family’s pedigree herd of cattle in Evesham, Worcestershire.          Enterprise Scheme, the Worcestershire Economic Partnership
                                                               The Ice Cream is distributed through the Fresher by                   and Wychavon District Council.
                                                               Miles business initiative set up by the Warwickshire and
                                                               Worcestershire Rural Hubs supported by Advantage West
                                                               Midlands. The scheme is a central distribution facility for the
                                                               marketing and delivery of local and regional food and drink to
Sue Appleby, Bretforton House Farm, Evesham, Worcestershire.

                                                                                                            Advantage West Midlands – prosperous rural communities                                 7

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