THE FUTURE looks optimistic for the growth of small businesses in Torridge and North Devon with £500,000 in grant funding now available from Leader 4 Torridge and North Devon. Grants totalling £38,395 have already been awarded to seven local businesses at

THE FUTURE looks optimistic for the growth of small businesses in Torridge and North Devon with £500,000 in grant funding now available from Leader 4 Torridge and North Devon.

Grants totalling £38,395 have already been awarded to seven local businesses at the first panel meeting of the Business Growth Small Grant Scheme.

Recipients were: Mervyn Watling of Wessex Pantry, Bradworthy - £6,590.75 for food processing equipment; Paul Reed of Reeds Bakery, Chivenor - £1,549.50 for food processing equipment; Adrian Sealey of TC Office Interiors, Bideford - £5,774 for expanding premises and purchase of a compact waste baler; Damien Board - Board's Auto Repairs, Bideford - £7,500 for MOT bay equipment; John Andrew of G Andrew and Son, Woolsery - £2,899.50 for equipment; Sarah Srisaeng of Phansit's Kitchen, Bideford - £6,581.42 for expansion of premises and new product development; Steve Harding of Barton Farm Shop, Woolsery - £7,500 for equipping new premises for retail butchery.

Mervyn Watling and Daloni Saunders from Wessex Pantry said:"At long last North Devon producers are being given the support they deserve. Our area is recognised as being economically deprived, but our Cornish cousins always seem to receive more support in terms of business development. The funding we have received from Leader 4 will enable us to buy new equipment to produce more pies and help us create new part-time job opportunities."

Businesses interested in applying for funding can request between £1,000 and £7,500 grant towards 50% of their project costs. Applicants must be micro businesses with less than 10 full time employees and have a trading address in Torridge or North Devon districts, excluding the six central Barnstaple wards.

Further information on the Business Growth Scheme can be obtained by logging on to www.leader4.org or by telephoning (01237) 426423