Landsker Business Zone brings together local businesses

Landsker Business Centre - 2010-08-11

A business consultancy with a strong link to the agriculture and agrifood sectors predicts major changes to grant funding provision for rural businesses in Wales.

Whitland-based Landsker Business Consultancy, which is hosting the Landsker Business Zone at the Pembrokeshire County Show for the third successive year, says some funding programmes scheduled for 2012 have already closed.

However, the consultancy’s director, Jeremy Bowen-Rees, says other initiatives are in place and a good level of support is still available. “I personally think we will see a lot of changes within business support for the whole of Wales,’’ says Mr Bowen-Rees. “For people visiting the Pembrokeshire County Show interested in grant changes and availability, it will be a good opportunity to come along to the Landsker Business Zone to find out more on what’s happening.’’

The Landsker Business Zone has grown year on year and this year there is an even greater level of support from Landsker’s strategic partners and other businesses.

Mr Bowen-Rees says that despite the economic downturn affecting the UK, the repercussions are not as apparent in west Wales, particularly in certain sectors.. “We feel very confident in supporting the show and look forward to welcoming clients old and new,’’ he says.

In the last 12 months he has seen growth in the agri-food and tourism sectors in areas west of Cardiff and south of Aberystwyth.

There has also been growing interest in social enterprise businesses. The consultancy has worked with many new and established organisations, such as local town development trusts to help access funding for initiatives such as acquiring derelict sites or neglected buildings, or to generally improve business performance. “In rural areas, where there is strong community engagement and ownership social enterprise is a catalyst for improvement; there is a lot of support out there for them,’’ says Mr Bowen-Rees.

Despite a squeeze on traditional sources of funding from the banking sector, alternative means of raising finance either exist or have been created through organisations such as industrial and provident societies, industrial development regeneration schemes, Government backed loan schemes and interest free loans from local lotteries. He also believes that some form of “soft” loan scheme may be made available from the Welsh Assembly Government to help replace the closure of their Single Investment Fund.  He adds. “This may create complimentary funding which will hopefully make banks more receptive to participate in syndicated lending for good commercial schemes.’’

The Landsker Business Zone can be found on Band Avenue, opposite the Food Hall.

Photos for this release:

Jeremy Bowen-Rees predicts major changes for grant-funding provision. PICTURE: Debbie James.