A new £630,000 grant scheme to help small businesses across the Marches which have suffered as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic has been launched today.
Grants of between £1,000 and £3,000 are available through the Marches Small Business Recovery Grant, which will help both tourism businesses and those in the wider economy.
Only small businesses in Telford & Wrekin, Shropshire and Herefordshire with up to ten full-time employees and who can demonstrate a negative impact due to the coronavirus crisis are able to apply.
The grants will be available for projects running between November and January. Costs can cover specialist advice – including HR, accountancy, legal, financial, health and safety, IT/digital and sector-related consultancy – and/or equipment to address immediate needs in response to Covid-19.
Telford & Wrekin Council, which is delivering the programme, says it anticipates high demand for the scheme, which will be run on a first-come first-served basis from its launch on October 14.
Councillor David Wright, Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet member for the Economy, Housing, Transport and Infrastructure, said: "This funding is focussed on supporting some of the smaller businesses that have been hit hardest by the pandemic. These are part of the lifeblood of our economy employing many local people.
"We expect demand to be high and there is a finite pot of money allocated from the European Regional Development Fund for the Marches. I would therefore urge businesses to check the eligibility criteria carefully and respond quickly as it is likely that the funds will be allocated very quickly and we may not be able to meet the demand."
The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership region has been allocated £215,000 to support tourism businesses and £415,000 for businesses in other sectors through the European Regional Development Fund.
Gill Hamer, Chief executive of the Marches LEP, said the funding was vitally needed by small businesses across the region.
"We know the tourism industry in our region in particular has been ravaged by the impact of Covid-19 and these grants will offer some essential help at a time of great worry and stress.
"The impact on the wider economy has also been profound and we know from our own research that it is smaller businesses which have often been put at most risk."
Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Simon Clarke MP said: "We have always said that we would stand behind our businesses and communities as we rebuild following the coronavirus pandemic. This new funding does exactly that.
"Businesses will be able to use these new grants to pay for the expertise, equipment and technology they need to adapt, recover and rebuild. Small and medium sized businesses are the beating heart of communities; they provide employment and contribute significantly to local economies and we are determined to give them the support they need to continue to thrive."
The money is drawn from the European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.
Applications will open on Wednesday 14th October at 9am so please take the opportunity to review the information we’ve initially provided on the dedicated website www.marches-sbrg.co.uk around eligibility and what’s needed in order to prepare and make a successful application.