A unique partnership to help small businesses to survive and thrive during and after the pandemic has seen £418,000 allocated in small businesses in Stafford Borough.
The Staffordshire Means Back to Business Scheme was set up by the county council in partnership with all the district and borough councils in the county, resulting in an additional £3.4m invested in growth grants, survival grants, grants to help recruit an apprentice, start up a business and fully-fund training for employees.
Now over 683 employees in Stafford Borough have been upskilled, 35 apprentices have been recruited, eight business have received survival and growth funding and £40,000 in interest-free start-up loans have been invested by the county council and Stafford Borough Council into small and medium sized businesses in the area.
Apprentices are central to Stafford-based FMS Care and Truck’s businesses and have recently taken on 18-year-old Kyle from Stafford using a £5,000 grant to recruit and support an apprentice from the Staffordshire Means Back to Business scheme.
Owner Richard Fraser, said: “Apprentices bring such great ideas and vibrancy to the business, but the best business advantage is that you get to shape them – teaching them to do things in the way that you want them to be done, and in so doing growing them into a great representative of your brand.
“The grant funding has really helped with the costs of Kyle Hugill’s first year and has made such a difference.’’
Councillor Frances Beatty, Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration and Planning, said: “Small businesses are the stalwart of our economy, and through this scheme we’ve been able to help more businesses with more funding and more support, quicker, and that’s made an incredible difference to many people.”
A total of around £50 million was distributed to support local businesses across the borough who had to close or were affected by measures introduced to control the spread of Covid during the pandemic.
Businesses can get free, impartial advice by contacting the borough council at email@example.com or from www.staffordbc.gov.uk/business-advice
Cllr Philip White, Staffordshire County Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for economy and skills, said: “While it has been important to help businesses struggling as part of the Staffordshire Means Back to Business scheme, it’s also been critical to recognise that the pandemic changed how we work, with many people needing to learn new skills. Young people haven’t had as many opportunities to access the world of work, especially during the pandemic. Together with our council partners, we’re proud to have directly supported nearly a thousand businesses and nearly 4,000 individuals to survive and grow.”
Although all funding has now been allocated to businesses from the Staffordshire Means Back to Business scheme, the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Growth Hub on 0300 111 8002 have dedicated business advisors on hand to support and signpost businesses to current funding and professional support.
Any business less than two years old can apply for an interest free start-up loan of up to £5,000, with more information at www.staffordshire.gov.uk/StartUpLoans.
Press Release No 5893