Welcome for £7m rural enterprise hub funding

People working at desks in an enterprise hub

Westmorland and Furness Council’s Leader has welcomed an announcement in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement that Government is intending to offer funding support towards a rural enterprise hub project near Penrith.

Government has allocated £7 million funding for the Inspiring Eden Enterprise Hub, an ambitious proposal to develop a purpose-built, state-of-the-art rural enterprise facility, as part of £37.5 million of investment to support regeneration projects across the UK.

Government has made clear that the funding is still subject to final approval and Westmorland and Furness Council officers are now reviewing the original business case in light of the announcement, engaging with officials at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to understand the implications and discuss next steps.

An application for funding for the enterprise hub was submitted by the former Eden District Council to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund in 2022.

A mix of office, studio, workshop and collaborative spaces would be provided as part of the originally proposed development, supporting an estimated 740 businesses both directly within the new hub and in the wider district, creating an estimated 655 jobs and generating £26.2 million in additional economic value over a 10-year period in existing and diversified growth sectors.

Westmorland and Furness Council Leader Councillor Jonathan Brook welcomed the announcement and described the hub proposal as a key opportunity to drive economic growth in Penrith, Eden and the wider region.

Councillor Brook said: “This project is all about increasing economic prosperity and levelling up through enterprise and entrepreneurship - with a focus on supporting our rural businesses.

“The proposal supports the new council’s key priority to create sustainable, inclusive economic growth as part of our vision to make Westmorland and Furness a great place to live, work and thrive.

“We very much welcome the announcement of the intended funding support and we are now working with Government to finalise details. We look forward to confirming how the funding can help unlock the full potential of local rural enterprise and entrepreneurship.’’

The project was developed as part of the 'Inspiring Eden' programme, with the Inspiring Eden Enterprise Hub aiming to complement other projects across Penrith and the wider district.

Read more about the Inspiring Eden Enterprise Hub