Leading councillors have approved a package of support worth more than £300,000 to help small businesses and retailers across Chichester District, as well as bolster a scheme which helps people to find work.
Chichester District Council’s Cabinet has given the green light for a series of projects to go ahead using more than £270,000 made available through the Pooled Business Rates Fund for West Sussex. The council’s Economic Development team applied for the money to support the following initiatives:
A total of £71,428 will go to help new and existing small businesses. It will enable small businesses to apply for funding for capital projects or to help with apprenticeship training.
The scheme will offer a simple way for businesses to access match funding of up to £2,500 for capital projects or up to £1,500 for apprenticeship training. Examples of capital projects could include equipment to help fit out a health and beauty salon, an extractor system for a pub kitchen, developing a new website or providing an IT workstation for a new member of staff. These are items which can be very costly for small businesses but which can make a huge difference
In the past the scheme has been extremely popular, benefitting more than 400 businesses across the district, with many experiencing increases in business turnover as a result. This in turn boosts economic growth and new job opportunities.
Independent retail support programme
£168,800 will go towards putting on specialist retail training and providing shop front grants for independent high street retailers in Chichester, Midhurst, Petworth and Selsey. In addition, Cabinet has agreed for £32,000 to be spent from council reserves on extending the scheme to East Wittering, which has a significant retail presence.
The training will be specialist, bespoke and fully funded. The scheme will begin with retail workshops focussing on converting footfall into sales. Retailers in each high street area will be able to choose from up to six workshops. The next stage will involve individual improvement sessions and in-store training to ensure that all commercial opportunities are being identified. The aim is to help these businesses tackle the huge changes that have taken place in the retail sector in recent years.
Afterwards, participating retailers will also be able to apply for a grant to refurbish and improve their shop front.
This programme is being established following high demand from independent retailers. Similar training held in Midhurst and Selsey several years ago was extremely popular.
£32,000 will go towards strengthening its work helping businesses better engage with schools and colleges. The funding will go towards planning a major jobs and skills event towards the end of 2018 to bring employers and young job seekers together.
The funding will also help establish specialist hubs across the district which will enable more people to access career support workshops and drop in sessions.
The Choose Work scheme not only helps people find jobs but it helps to equip them to meet employers’ staff requirements.
“We are committed to assisting small businesses and independent retailers in the district and so I am very pleased that our bid for this funding has been successful,” says Councillor Tony Dignum, Leader of Chichester District Council. “These schemes are being put into place as a result of demand from independent businesses themselves, so we know that this type of support is needed. This is very positive news and will really help support our local economy.
“We were also very keen to ensure that we made further funds available so that independent shops in East Wittering village centre can be included. We want to ensure that independent retailers here can take advantage of this excellent support programme in order to boost what is a distinct and vibrant high street area.
“I am also pleased that the excellent progress of our Choose Work programme will be continuing, with the proposed projects helping to bring employers and potential workers together.
“The funding has only just been announced, so we are now in the early stages of putting these programmes together. We’ll publish more information and details on how to apply once they are ready.”