An innovative package of support to help Renfrewshire businesses recover from the effects of lockdown has been given the green light by councillors.
And the £1.3m funding boost agreed today by members of Renfrewshire Council’s Emergencies Board has also been welcomed by some of the area’s key economic leaders.
The proposals were developed as a result of an in-depth survey which saw staff from the council and Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce speak to more than 500 businesses – around 10% of Renfrewshire’s total – about the issues coronavirus has caused for them.
The council then used the results of that to develop a new package of short-term funding which will now be open for local firms to apply for from mid-August. It includes:
– £500k for zero-interest business restart loans of up to £5,000 to help small-and-medium-sized business with short-term cashflow;
– £400k for grants of up to £10,000 to help sustain businesses and plan for growth in the medium term;
– £250k for grants of up to £2,500 to help businesses adapt their premises to allow for physical distancing;
– £150k to help fund expert advice to businesses in crisis and self-employed people over training and access to funding;
The money is coming from within existing council budgets for business support and is expected to be the first stage of a longer-term economic recovery plan.
And the package of support has been backed by members of the Renfrewshire Economic Leadership Panel.
Bob Grant, chief executive of Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The survey exercise in partnership with Renfrewshire Council has been the largest ever of the business community in Renfrewshire and we warmly welcome the innovative package of funding as a direct response to the key issues highlighted.
“In addition to these measures Renfrewshire Chamber will fund two initiatives launching at the end of July: Development of a peer-to-peer business mentoring service and a unique Transform training program which will help companies to innovate, re-design and develop new strategies to mitigate the impacts of Covid and identify future opportunities.”
Grant Edmondson, Hillington Park commercial director for Frasers Property UK – the majority owner of Scotland’s biggest business park, home to around 500 organisations – also welcomed the news.
He said: “We are happy to see the majority of Hillington Park businesses are now back open and operating, albeit significantly below capacity.
“We’re aware however many are concerned about the speed of pick-up in demand for their products and services over the next few months, with impact on cashflow as government support tapers off.
“The new business support package being announced by Renfrewshire Council is therefore extremely welcome at this point and we would encourage local businesses to get in touch with the council and apply for the support when applications open.”
Lydia Brown, Community Development Manager for intu Braehead said: “Businesses have been going through unprecedented times recently and only now, as lockdown restrictions are easing, do they have the opportunity to start the process of economic recovery.
“Many businesses still need support to help them kick-start their revival and this assistance from Renfrewshire Council can play a vital role in this.
“If any businesses – large or small – can benefit from this extra funding they should certainly apply to find out if they qualify for the assistance.
“The people running businesses in Renfrewshire are very creative and resilient and thankfully, we can see light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve no doubt we will get there and the Renfrewshire economy will come back as strong as ever.”
Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson added: “I am pleased this package of business support was backed by councillors today. We have prioritised this investment as we are determined to do all we can to support the local economy and protect local jobs through what will be a tough period ahead.
“We wanted to make sure the support we are offering was based on what businesses need – and the extensive work we and the Chamber did to establish what that was has been hugely valuable to us in terms of understanding the challenges facing our businesses.”