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Central Bedfordshire unveiled as home to new Food Enterprise Zones

25 March 2015

Food, drink and farming businesses in Central Bedfordshire are set to get a dramatic boost with today’s announcement of a new  Food Enterprise Zone (FEZ) to be established, which covers the Stratton Park Opportunity Area.

The announcement, made today (25 March) by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, will help businesses in the agri-food sector to set up and expand in the Biggleswade and Ivel Valley area.

This new Food Enterprise Zone, one of only six in the country, will work closely with Cranfield University and is set to create around 2,000 jobs and up to 30 new businesses by 2020 in what will become a food and drink cluster.

Daniel Mouawad, Chief Executive of South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership, welcomed the news:

“We are absolutely delighted that Central Bedfordshire is set to become home to a new Food Enterprise Zone in the South East Midlands. Over 26,000 people work in the vibrant food and drink sector in the South East Midlands and this new Enterprise Zone will make it easier for existing businesses to expand and new ones to set up, attracting investment and boosting the rural economy.”

This news will be shared with delegates attending SEMLEP’s ‘Appetite for Growth’ event on 23rd April, an event for senior managers of food and drink businesses in the South East Midlands. At this event delegates will meet industry experts, including representatives from UKTI with experience in trade and foreign direct investment. Delegates will be advised  out how to access the  supply chain and  business support and will help to shape SEMLEP’s future support for the food and drink sector.

Jason Longhurst, Director of Regeneration and Business at Central Bedfordshire 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.

“Jordan’s Ryvita is a key anchor company on the Stratton Business Park, plus there are the land development opportunities offered through the coming three phases of the business park expansion, there are 65 farms in the area including Blunham’s Chillies and a successful Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) that has received £1.6million of LEADER funding. 

“Cranfield University’s own experimental farm is also close by in Silsoe, and Cranfield are eager to be involved in establishing a centre of excellence for Agrifood in the area.”

Among the advantages for businesses in a Food Enterprise Zone 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, increased workforce specialism and supply chain efficiencies and the fact that attracting investment is easier.

Find out more about SEMLEP's Appetite for Growth event, set to take place on 23rd April, here.


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