There will be 2,000 more jobs and up to 30 new businesses in the food and drink market in Biggleswade by 2020.
Central Bedfordshire Council has secured £50,000 of government funding, which will help food, drink and farming businesses to set up and expand in the Biggleswade and Ivel Valley area.
The Ivel Valley area is the ideal area to secure funding for a Food Enterprise Zone due to the developing cluster of agri-food businesses there.Jason Longhurst, Director of Regeneration and Business at Central Beds Council
Agri-food is one of the key sectors in Central Beds and the money will be used to develop a Food Enterprise Zone (FEZ), which enables faster growth for businesses in the sector.
It will make it easier for existing businesses to expand and new ones to set up, attracting investment and boosting the rural economy.
They will also forge closer links through the entire food chain, joining up farmers, manufacturers, retailers and researchers, helping businesses to realise the full value of food and drink.
Jason Longhurst, director of regeneration and business at Central Beds Council, said: “We are improving the support we give to our key sectors, one of which is the agri-food sector.
“The Ivel Valley area is the ideal area to secure funding for a Food Enterprise Zone due to the developing cluster of agri-food businesses there.”
It will be underpinned by a Local Development Order focused on food and farming.
This will be set up by the council to ensure that planning processes are easier for agri-food businesses and their related supply chains. The FEZ will be subject to public consultation.
Central Bedfordshire’s successful bid was one of six new FEZs across England revealed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the council will receive the funding by the end of April.
Among the advantages for businesses in an FEZ are greater collaboration between food and farming businesses, better links to research and education institutions helping to provide innovation in the sector, improved services and support from environmental health and planning teams and increased workforce specialism.
Despite the successful bid, the council stresses this will have no impact on businesses outside of the food, drink and farming sector wishing to set up or expand in the area.