Martin Hill: Businesses at the heart of the community

Fromleft, Coun Martin Hill, Roxanne Campbell, Colin Campbell and Chantelle Grundy at the Folkingham Store
Fromleft, Coun Martin Hill, Roxanne Campbell, Colin Campbell and Chantelle Grundy at the Folkingham Store

As anyone who lives in a rural location knows, having a local shop or post office can make a vast improvement to your quality of life.

Just being able to buy a few groceries or post a letter without having to get in the car can be the difference between feeling isolated and feeling part of a vibrant community.

These small businesses not only form an important part of the county’s economy, but also provide vital services to local people and bring our communities closer together.

And all too often we’ve seen that, if a local pub, shop or post office closes, it can take away the lifeblood of a village.

That’s why the county council is stepping in and offering a helping hand where we can.

If you’re keen to revitalise your local post office or shop, or perhaps you’re thinking of opening a little local business, you could be eligible for one of our Rural Gain Grants, to help make your dreams a reality.

The scheme is open to retail businesses based in Lincolnshire villages and towns with fewer than 5,000 residents. Grants are between £250 and £10,000, up to 50 per cent of the total project cost.

Priority will be given to projects from the most hard-to-reach communities, and, to qualify, your ideas would need to support or create key rural services.

In the last few years, 26 businesses have benefited from the scheme, sharing more than £125,000 of funding.

A shining example is Folkingham Store, which was awarded a Rural Gain Grant four years ago. 
The money meant that owners Colin Campbell and his wife, Roxanne, could refurbish the shop in the Market Square, allowing them to offer customers a wider range of Lincolnshire products than ever before.

I’ve been very impressed by the continued energy and commitment shown by Colin and Roxanne in getting things off the ground, and am pleased to see that they now have a thriving business, which is also a vital hub for the village community.

So if you have an exciting idea for your village, but need a little help, please get in touch.

You can find out if your business is eligible for a Rural Gain Grant by calling Clare Hogben on 01522 782070.

Alternatively, you can email transportation_group@lincolnshire.gov.uk or visit www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/ruralgaingrant.

But don’t delay – the last opportunity to submit an application is November 28, 2014, and projects will need to be completed by March 31, 2015.