£3m pot to help Norfolk’s rural economy grow

Norfolk County Council has already invested over £500,000 in rural small and medium-sized businesses and there is more money to be made.

The £3million DRIVE scheme is designed to help the rural economy grow and support businesses, such as the West Norfolk-based Wrought Iron and Brass Bed Company, which urges others to accept l ‘offer.

Harry Thompson is the managing director of the Wolferton-based family business on the Sandringham estate.

Harry Thompson in his Wrought Iron and Brass Bed Company showroom

The company was supported by the mentoring service of the DRIVE team to explore the development paths of the company.

Harry said: “The expert mentoring advice helped us envision ways of doing things differently and identify new markets. Having someone to support you in your decision-making gives you the space and confidence to think creatively when finances for an individual project may seem to be stretching.”

Available online and through their Swaffham showroom (by appointment only), the company now supplies John Lewis and Partners with a small selection of its iron beds.

Harry added: “Despite the storm of the pandemic, we are already feeling the benefits of DRIVE and are now entering negotiations with overseas markets. We never imagined it would be such a hit.

“The grant has enabled us to offer new products which have been designed and manufactured in brass, nickel and copper and which can be viewed in our new showroom in Swaffham.

“Over the past month, we have also increased our team from 13 to 16 people and will be recruiting three new people.

“I would highly recommend DRIVE to companies like ours. What’s the worst that can happen? Do it! Unless you ask, you don’t know what’s available.

Delivering Rural Investment for Vital Employment is led by County Council, in partnership with Suffolk County Council.

Cllr Graham Plant, Cabinet Member of Norfolk County Council for Economic Growth, said: “Investing in our local rural businesses makes perfect economic sense.

“As we recover from the worst of the pandemic, we are already seeing successes materialize, whether it is financing computer-controlled machinery, a frozen food truck or brewery equipment. And what’s really exciting about all of these DRIVE-led businesses is the creation of more jobs, helping Norfolk thrive.



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