Welcome from Mark Ryder, Strategic Director for Communities

Hello and welcome to the April edition of Warwickshire Means Business.

We lead off this month with the great news that businesses throughout the county will continue to benefit from our highly-renowned business support programme.

Another £1.3million has been secured from the European Regional Development Fund which, match-funded by ourselves and our partner organisations locally, will drive a new £2.6million  programme for another three years.

The previous programme, which ended in December 2018, was a huge success. It supported 411 businesses, helped 159 people to start a business and created over 250 new jobs. We constantly receive feedback which shows that this support has made a real difference in terms of helping businesses to grow and in securing and creating jobs.

We are very proud of the work of our Economy & Skills team and the broad range of support they offer. Please do get in touch and exploit their expertise. In this edition of Warwickshire Means Business you can read about two companies who did that and are growing as a result: R53 in Leamington Spa and Athag in Atherstone. Wherever you are in the county, and whatever sector you are in, we can help.

Safeguarding our High Streets is also high on the agenda in this edition. The recent Warwickshire Towns Conference was, as always, an impressive and positive gathering with plenty of ideas discussed. Meanwhile, retail and high street specialist Mark Pilkington is our guest columnist this month.

Skills issues are also well-covered. The internship scheme between Exhall Grange Specialist School and McDonald Hotels and Resorts is an uplifting story which shows what is possible with a positive approach. Such an approach has led to the creation of the Supporters Employers Forum and I urge all businesses to attend the launch event of that new organisation on May 10.  Also, please read about our Skills for Employment team's new initiative to try to keep more of our higher-skilled graduates in the region.

I hope you enjoy this edition of Warwickshire Means Business. Our county continues to perform very strongly (our unemployment rate is now in the lowest five in the UK) and that is great credit to every single business, large and small, which helps power our economy.

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