SELEP awards funding for local food and drink project

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The South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) has announced that it has awarded funding to a campaign called ‘Buy Local South East’, which will support the local food and drink sector across Essex, Kent and Sussex.   

The campaign to be launched in August, aims to enhance and improve the economic health of the SELEP area’s food sector through the development of  more connected business networks, new business relationships and increased consumer awareness. It will be managed by Produced in Kent, Natural Partnerships CIC in Sussex and Rural Community Council of Essex,  harnessing  a wealth of experience across the rural and food and drink sectors.  

Growers, producers, retailers and hospitality outlets in the three counties will benefit from tailored regional marketing campaigns, including social media and press exposure.  The initiative will also support local food and drink businesses by leading a series of business recovery activities.  Businesses  will be able to access training, coaching and even one-on-on support to aid their recovery.

Due to the current social distancing guidelines, these industries are in greater need of a robust online presence and a way of connecting to showcase their products as we move to a more digital society. To map assets across the SELEP region, boost B2C and B2B sales, and create a regional business network, a new website and regional map will be created to help business growth and employment in the current climate.

Natural Partnerships CIC co-director Paula Seager, who manages the Sussex food and drink map, says, “This is a fantastic opportunity for us to build on our work to support local producers and the businesses which serve and sell their produce. Now more than ever, it is important that people protect their local community and the environment by choosing local produce and our map makes it easy for everyone to find it.” 

Covid-19 has highlighted the pivotal role that the food and drink industry plays in our local economy and communities. ‘Buy Local South East’ will further raise the public’s awareness of the locally grown produce that is available and help support the regional economy. The campaign will also open up new business opportunities and collaboration networks, and promote a connected, healthy and happy community.   

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