THOUSANDS of businesses across Somerset and Devon are set to benefit from a £1m new support service.

The Heart of the South West (HotSW) Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) hopes to create a strong programme of support in the two counties which will stimulate business innovation, helping to boost the local economy and increase jobs.

The package, launched this month, provides a range of options to help businesses grow and develop, including business advice, an interactive workshop, specialist support for women’s led enterprises and a voucher programme.

Just under £1m is being invested into the business support programme which is part of the wider Rural Growth Network for Devon and Somerset.

It is being led by the HotSW LEP in partnership with Devon and Somerset County Councils.

Funding comes from the Defra sponsored RGN programme as well as Devon County Council, which is providing support for innovation in rural businesses.

Chris Garcia, Chief Executive of the Local Enterprise Partnership said: “Supporting rural businesses is critical to the economy of the Heart of the South West area – this dedicated service is set to make a huge difference by providing a range of tailored business services that are easily accessible.”