Cheshire has been named the best county in the country to set up a rural business.
The finding emerged from a new study by the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) – an organisation that represents farmers and rural businesses across.
The CLA scored each county on its ability to support rural businesses, such as the amount of broadband coverage available, planning policies and business support – and Cheshire came out top.
Councillor Michael Jones, Leader Cheshire East Council, said: “This is fantastic news and sends out a strong message that Cheshire East really is the place to do business.
“We take real pride in supporting our rural community as it represents not only our heritage but our future too.”
An example of this is the Cheshire East-backed Connecting Cheshire’s rollout of superfast broadband – which is one of the most successful in the country.
The £28.5m Connecting Cheshire project has already provided fibre broadband to more than 80,000 homes and businesses. This builds on BT’s commercial investment so that 96 percent of Cheshire – around 400,000 premises – will have access to speeds of up to 80mbps by the end of 2015.
A £6m phase two roll-out aims to increase this coverage to 98 per cent by end of 2017.
CLA President, Henry Robinson, congratulated the authority and said: “Operating in a rural area brings opportunities but also challenges, and in this table, we shine a light on some of the main factors that can help a business to succeed.
“Top of the list is connectivity because the pressures of running a rural business can be compounded by the availability of mobile and broadband coverage in the most remote areas. The government, councils and network providers need to place an emphasis on this if businesses are to operate on a day to day basis.
“Businesses need space to update buildings and our table rates the performance of planning authorities, on whether they are permitting or refusing applications to convert and change buildings.”
Aqueduct Marina, based at Church Minshull in Nantwich, is owned by CLA member Robert Parton.
Robert welcomed the support given to his business and said of Cheshire coming top of the survey: “I’m not surprised. Cheshire really is open to business.
“We have every confidence that we can continue to develop in what will remain a thriving Cheshire rural business environment.”
Cheshire East Council has invested steadily in rural communities and been successful in securing European Rural Development Funding for the Cheshire East LEADER programme.
Councillor Michael Jones added: “As part of the growth programme, rural businesses looking to expand will be able to benefit from new funding. This funding will provide a real boost for the rural economy.
“We have also appointed a rural enterprise manager, in order to support and facilitate growth opportunities. I would urge any rural businesses that are serious about expanding and developing their business in Cheshire East to get in touch.”
For more information, contact the Council’s inward investment and business engagement team on 0300 123 5001 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org