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Rural university-business hub gets £3.5m boost

Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has pledged £3.5m towards the creation of a new hub designed to help young people and enable growth in small rural businesses.

The new University Centre and Rural Business Development Hub is the first of its kind in rural Dorset and is a potential game-changer for the local student and business community.

The 875sqm gateway to the estate will be the opening vista to a core learning and experiential estate in the heart of rural Dorset.

‘We are delighted to be able to award a significant amount from our overall £11.8 million Getting Building Fund allocation towards this much-needed development,’ said LEP director, Lorna Carver.

‘The combination of a University Centre with a Rural Business Hub will allow Dorset LEP to realise the opportunities described in its own commissioned work, The South West Rural Productivity Commission and the Local Industrial Strategy. Our investment in this exciting project will address the significant deficiency in HE provision in rural Dorset, help to plug the productivity gap and provide valuable support to the rural business community.’

Luke Rake, principal of Kingston Maurward College, added: ‘Kingston Maurward is extremely pleased to be prioritised by Dorset LEP for funding for our planned University Centre and Rural Business Hub. It has long been recognised that progression to higher education is less good from the rural part of the county. This ambitious intervention, driven by the college, aims to help improve social mobility and opportunities for knowledge transfer.

‘A dedicated rural business centre will both support businesses across the rural area and also increase opportunities with our new Rural Business, Tourism and Heritage Land Management programmes for Sixth Formers and University students from 2021-22. It is extremely exciting and a game-changer for both the college, Dorchester and the rural county.’

Photo Credit – Supplied by Dorset LEP

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