Flying high with ambition
A start-up business is set to begin trials in Warwickshire to test the capability of drones delivering urgent medical supplies after receiving support. Skyfarer, which was established by Elliot Parnham in 2019 after studying aerospace engineering at university, was initially planning to be part of a project in Africa that would see supplies delivered to hard-to-reach areas via drone technology.
But travel restrictions due to the global Coronavirus pandemic has seen the company look closer to home and is working with, among others, the NHS on the possibility of using autonomous aircraft to reduce the time it takes to move medical critical supplies to where they are needed urgently.
That includes plasma, blood, organs and samples that could be delivered to locations much more quickly than by road.
Skyfarer, which is based at the Coventry University Enterprise Hub, has been supported by Business Ready, a programme that delivers support to expanding businesses which is managed by the business support team at the University of Warwick Science Park, and is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Warwickshire County Council as part of the CW Business: Start, Grow & Scale Programme.
The company has received a £50,000 grant from Innovate UK – which has led to the creation of one full-time and two part-time jobs – and the firm is also in the process of applying for further funding.
The project is also supported by Altitude Angel, the world’s leading Unmanned Traffic Management system provider; FlyPulse, a Swedish Flight Management System Innovator, and Coventry University’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Automotive Research (CCAAR).
Cllr Peter Butlin, Deputy Leader of Warwickshire County Council and portfolio holder for finance and property, said: “This is a really exciting venture, using high tech innovation to create jobs that are sustainable. Besides the employment opportunities that working with Skyfarer is creating, this can really help to get important medical supplies to where they are needed and quickly. We’re very happy to have supported this initiative.”
Elliot said: “The technology is still quite expensive and, until that changes, it will only be viable for high-value items that need to be delivered as quickly as possible – that’s why there is such strong potential with urgent medical supplies. It could also lead to the delivery of pharmaceuticals and PPE which, again, has been highlighted as so important during the current crisis.
“In my view, delivering products direct to people’s doors is still a way off because of the limited proven reliability of safety systems required when operating aircraft in dense urban and sub-urban environments, but we can really see the potential for this kind of system in increasing efficiency for urgent delivery.
“We can’t be any more specific about the location of our trials in Warwickshire, but they are extremely important in the development of the business and could be a lifesaver for people in the future.”
He added: “The grant funding has been crucial in getting to this stage and Business Ready have helped me to apply for further support and have also worked with me on making the business investment ready by creating a roadmap for growth.
“I’d urge anyone at this stage of their business to get in touch with them.”
Caption, from the left, Luke Pulford (Business Ready), Matthew Lawrence (Business Ready), Cllr Peter Butlin (Warwickshire County Council) and Elliot Parnham (Skyfarer
For more information about Business Ready, visit: www.business-ready.co.uk
Fantastic response to the My Town Nuneaton consultation
A major consultation to help Nuneaton win a share of millions of pounds worth of Government funding has been inundated with responses.
The town is one of 100 across the country that has been selected to bid for funding from the Government’s Towns Fund initiative.
There is up to £25 million available for each town to help with projects that will deliver transformation across England as part of the Government’s commitment to ‘level up’ all regions across the country.
In order to compete for the funding, a bid needs to be created which will include a list of projects and residents were asked to share their views in the first wave of consultation.
More than 250 ideas have been submitted to the campaign and now they are being assessed before shortlisting.
Ideas included suggested improvements to the road system, cycling and pedestrian routes around Nuneaton, improvements to the park and increasing other leisure activities, increasing opportunities for training and apprenticeships and improvements to the digital network.
A Town Deal Board – made up of business representatives, Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Councillors, Warwickshire County Councillors and representatives from the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Warwickshire CAVA, the health sector and community – has been created to bring a funding bid together.
Cllr Peter Butlin, Deputy Leader at Warwickshire County Council, sits on the Town Deal Board and represents the county council.
He said: “The response to the first call-out has been fantastic and proves there is a real enthusiasm among residents to improve the town in Nuneaton.
“Coupled with the Transforming Nuneaton project, there is a lot happening in Nuneaton which will make an enormous difference to its residents and the businesses in the town. We want local people to play their part in the exciting future of their town and I urge people to keep sending their ideas through.It is really helping us to get a picture of what people want and what we should be striving to deliver.”
Sean Farnell, Chair of the Nuneaton Town Deal Board, is thrilled with how many people got involved with the first part of the consultation.
“Firstly, the board would like to say a huge thank you to everyone that got involved with the first stage of the consultation,” he said.
“There have been some very interesting and thought-provoking responses and we are looking forward to discussing them in more detail and finding out all about the projects.
“Once we have formed a shortlist of the projects, we will reveal them and put them out to consultation again for members of the public to share their views on them.
“This is a chance to shape the future of Nuneaton, so please keep supporting this and help us create the best bid possible to submit to the Government.”
Projects need to relate to six key areas – local transport, digital connectivity, urban regeneration, arts, culture and heritage, skills, and enterprise – to qualify for the funding.
Shortlisted projects will be revealed in a second round of consultation and then a plan of action, called a Town Investment Plan, will be drawn up to submit for the Government funding later in the year.
For further information about the campaign and to submit an idea visit www.mytownnuneaton.co.uk
To keep up to date with the initiative follow @MyTown _Nuneaton on Twitter and My Town Nuneaton at Facebook.
Caption: Nuneaton town centre
Studley business owner is still a busy bee
A Studley coffee house owner, whose business has gone from strength-to-strength during the Coronavirus lockdown despite being closed for ten weeks, has revealed the secret to its success.
Mum-of-two Ella Clarke launched Bumbles Coffee House & Lifestyle on Alcester Road in Studley in November 2019 after a year of planning her vision for not just an eco-friendly coffee house, but a space where the community could host workshops and events.
However, just four months after opening, she had to close her doors as Coronavirus took hold of the country.
Fortunately, having attended a series of digital workshops focused on supporting retailers in January 2020 Ella was able to take on board advice, and continue to grow her business, even during lockdown.
The free workshops were delivered by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce and Stories Marketing, on behalf of Warwickshire County Council through the Warwickshire Towns Network Programme. The workshops shared insights into how businesses can use social media and other digital tools to drive traffic to their website.
Ella said: “When we had to close our doors for three months, we did the opposite online and ensured we were talking to our existing customers. Although we couldn’t offer a service, we posted conversational posts about what coffee people were missing for example, as well as competitions - and this proved to be really beneficial because we were doing this at a time when more people were at home and scrolling on their phones.
“Before we knew it, we had built up an extra 1,000 social media followers and had a strong community ready to access our new click and collect service when we eventually reopened. Now we are fully reopened these followers have become loyal customers, both click and collect and ‘eating in’.”
To meet demand, a series of new Digital Retail Skills Training sessions are to be held for retailers across the county on behalf of Warwickshire County Council through the Warwickshire Towns Network Programme.
The sessions are being offered as part of a £5 million package of support from Warwickshire County Council to boost the immediate economic recovery of the county.
The first of the Digital Retail Skills Training sessions was fully booked but throughout October and November there are a host of further online workshops and 1:1 support available to retailers in Warwickshire.
Leader of Warwickshire County Council and Portfolio Holder for Economic Growth, Councillor Izzi Seccombe, stressed the importance of continuing to safely support businesses in town and village centres during these unprecedented times.
She said: “We have seen some real success stories since we started the programme in 2016, and also through the pandemic lockdown. In this climate of uncertainty, it’s wonderful to see small retailers and high street businesses embracing social media, changing the way they interact with customers and gaining new customers as they do so.
“Supporting this training is just a part of a package of help that the County Council is making available to businesses. Small businesses such as this are the lifeblood of the county and we will work with them to increase their resilience and adaptability so that they can continue to grow despite the crisis.”
Keely Hancox, from the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, added: “Businesses need to be making the most of online channels now more than ever to make up for the lost physical trade they would have normally received. The workshops are all about growing their business, and supporting them to trade online, whilst also using online methods to drive socially distanced footfall into their stores.”
For more details about the workshops, and to book a place, visit https://bit.ly/Warwickshire-Digital-Retail-Skills-Training
Caption: Ella Clarke from Bumbles Coffee House & Lifestyle
Leamington Spa Station Improvement Scheme announced
A new rail infrastructure initiative for Warwick District has taken an important step forward with the announcement of an improvement scheme for Leamington Spa Station.
The programme of investment to the station forecourt and underpass will be delivered ahead of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Lawn Bowls and Para Bowls competitions, taking place at Royal Leamington Spa’s Victoria Park.
The £1.2m Leamington Spa Station improvement scheme which is being funded by Warwick District Council and the Government’s Local Growth Fund through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership will include:
· The development of a new public space in the station forecourt to create a welcoming hub on arrival;
· Improved public transport connectivity;
· The refurbishment of the station underpass to improve the route between the station and town centre;
· The installation of new wayfinding signs; and
· Increased cycle racks and storage.
The scheme has now been adopted by Warwickshire County Council who have agreed to oversee the design and delivery stages of the works.
Warwick District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Culture, Councillor Moira-Ann Grainger, commented: “The new scheme will not only offer an attractive and efficient point of entry for competitors and spectators visiting Royal Leamington Spa for the Games, but will also provide a lasting legacy which is in keeping with our vibrant and beautiful town. We are extremely grateful for the support of our partners from the CWLEP and Warwickshire County Council in facilitating these exciting plans, which will help us to put our town and wider district on the map.”
Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Transport and Planning, Councillor Jeff Clarke, commented: “Warwickshire County Council is committed to supporting all our residents through excellent Transport Infrastructure. Leamington Spa is a major station on the Warwickshire rail network and, as a Council, we were very happy to adopt the design and delivery of these important improvements to the site.
“The new look station forecourt and refurbished underpass will create a modern and accessible train station in Royal Leamington Spa ready for the influx of visitors to the Town ahead of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Nick Abell, Chair of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, added: “This is a crucial stage in the countdown to Royal Leamington Spa hosting the Lawn Bowls and Para Bowls at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games as the infrastructure now starts to be put in place.
“Improving the accessibility to Leamington Spa Station and adding new signs to Victoria Park are among the initiatives that will improve the experience for visitors from across the UK and further afield who may be arriving in the town for the first time and will be boosting the local economy.”
To find out more about the Leamington Spa Station Improvement Scheme and view and comment on the provisional design proposals visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/leamingtonstation
Caption: A CGI of the new-look Leamington Spa Station
Former Co-op gets contemporary makeover as luxury fashion retailer moves in
The Transforming Nuneaton programme has been instrumental in a designer clothes shop moving into the former Co-op building in the town.
Transforming Nuneaton is an initiative between Warwickshire County Council, Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council (NBBC) and the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) to transform Nuneaton town centre with a mixed-use regeneration scheme to boost economic growth.
The former Co-op department store was acquired by NBBC in January 2019, with Warwickshire County Council contributing to the cost.
Much work has gone into preserving the classic Art Deco features as well as regenerating the physical and economically obsolete parts of the building for the arrival of the contemporary LABEL store which sells luxury fashion and designer brands.
The independent retailer, which was formerly based at Dugdale Street, is settling into its new premises within the former Co-op building on Queens Road and has created five jobs.
A LABEL spokesperson said: “We are very happy to have been able to work closely with NBBC who understood our vision to create a beautiful space for luxury fashion.
“The store is designed with every detail taken into consideration, finishes include polished concrete floors and Italian micro cement finish to the walls as well as custom bespoke furniture and art inspired fixtures.
“LABEL has been established as a designer store in Nuneaton since 1995, but in the past few years the focus has changed to turning LABEL into a higher level of ‘luxury fashion’, we work with some of the biggest and most exclusive fashion houses in the world such as Moncler, Fendi, Givenchy, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace and more, and we have acquired even more amazing brands for the upcoming seasons ahead.
“The new store has seen customers coming to Nuneaton from far and wide, which was always our intention. Including TV personalities, professional athletes and UK chart musicians, we are certainly creating a great following which can only be good for our town. Plus, since re-locating we have created a further five new job opportunities.
“We feel proud to be the first store to open and be the face of the new up-and coming project in Nuneaton town centre around the old Co-op scheme. It has been a testing time for us all globally with Covid-19, but a great positive for our town to have a beautiful boutique with so many international brands available on our doorstep.”
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Leader of Warwickshire County Council, said: “This news comes at such an important and significant time. With the retail market being so badly hit due to the Covid
pandemic, and concerns for employment, it is great to hear of the additional jobs that this has created.
“The high-end fashion offer is very much in keeping with our vision for Nuneaton’s town centre and will project a strong, positive image for the transformation scheme.”
Cllr Julie Jackson, leader of NBBC, said: “It is great to see the Co-op building breathe a new lease of life with this contemporary unit. The introduction of LABEL comes at a crucial time and will no doubt help attract visitors and boost the economy of the town centre.
“I’m also hoping the move will help to kick-start interest in the Co-op regeneration by showing what a fantastic base the premises is for new businesses.”
The CWLEP has also awarded almost £900,000 to Nuneaton among its priority list of infrastructure projects to receive Government funding as part of the Getting Building Fund.
The upper floors of the former Co-op building will be transformed into a business hub to provide office and workshop space for new creative and innovative SMEs in the town centre.
Caption: The Transforming Nuneaton logo
Lights, Camera, Action!
Warwickshire County Council is seeking businesses to take part in a pilot programme to showcase their current and future employment and career opportunities.
The Economy and Skills Team has launched the Future Careers Digital Market Place scheme, which is funded by the Skills For Employment Programme, to provide a digital media opportunity for businesses in the county to work with a filming company.
Each participating business will present who they are, what they do and the opportunities which sit behind their doors.
The team will look to film with senior management and HR teams, providing a company overview and insight to their recruitment processes, where roles are advertised, what skills are needed and career prospects.
Once filming is complete, the pieces will appear online for schools, colleges and employment programmes to access and feature in various planned Future Careers Digital Market Place Events in the autumn where employers will have further opportunity to dial into virtual careers events.
Michael Sharman, Business Skills Advisor for Warwickshire County Council, said: “As Warwickshire’s economy kickstarts post Covid-19 and the more long-term use of safety measures are adopted into every part of life, our Economy and Skills team has been working with businesses and education partners.
“We wanted to explore how different areas of the economy could digitally interact with education and those seeking work and how they might support the county in maintaining a strong supply of talent, whilst also providing opportunities for multiple sectors to gain new skills by presenting their business in a quite different digital world.
“The Future Careers Digital Market Place project is an ideal opportunity for recruiting businesses from all sectors to work with us to create a tailored film, promoting their career opportunities.
“For any businesses who might not be experienced in front of the camera, then don’t worry. Social distancing means that only two members of the project team will join you on the day. Before then there will be lots of support on hand to help you talk through preparations.
“We are looking for a small number of businesses who would like to participate in the pilot programme in preparation of the wider programme launching in autumn so anyone interested should get in touch and we can have a chat.”
Michael can be contacted at email@example.com
New fund to rejuvenate Warwickshire’s town centres
Warwickshire County Council is set to launch an £80,000 project to support digital initiatives that will encourage people to visit the county’s town centres for leisure and business.
The Town Centres Tech Challenge fund is to be set-up after a business survey undertaken by the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership identified the need for digital products which help support and promote town centres, and engage existing and new customers as well as improve consumer confidence in returning.
The innovative scheme will support proposals that address one or more of the following goals:
· Helps create a town centre’s sense of place, why should people visit, how and when
· Helps consumers feel confident about visiting their favourite businesses in town centres
· Supports the promotion of businesses both individually and as a whole town experience
· Increases engagement between the local community and town centre businesses
· Increases engagement between a wider audience and town centre businesses
The County Council is to begin the search for businesses to kick-start a bigger project to identify and support an initiative that will focus on promoting the county’s town centres as places to visit, enjoy and engage with safely.
Funding between £10,000 and £80,000 will be available for companies that clearly demonstrate they can address at least one of the goals which have been highlighted and the County Council is welcoming everything from start-up ideas to an existing initiative which needs to be scaled or accelerated.
Applications will be judged by an expert panel made up of local authority and industry representatives and need to be a collaboration between at least two local businesses or organisations within Warwickshire’s geography.
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Leader of Warwickshire County Council and portfolio holder for economic development, said: “Our town centres were already facing significant challenges and the events of 2020 have exacerbated and accelerated the need for creative and innovative approaches to redefine how town centres promote themselves and our reasons for visiting them.
“Covid-19 has had a significant impact on our town centres. Given the strength of our digital creative community in Warwickshire, we want to encourage and support collaboration between our town centre businesses and this sector, to develop initiatives that will play a vital role in supporting the resilience and recovery of town centres across the area and help to stimulate the local economy.
“We are not being prescriptive about what types of projects should be submitted so, if you have an idea, we want to hear about it.
“We are looking to support up to four initiatives that could be implemented across the county, and we would like applicants to demonstrate partnership working with town centre businesses and organisations for which they are seeking to help.”
All projects must be completed by March 31, 2021.
The competition will be launched shortly. The call will be published on: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/coronavirusbusinesssupport
To register an interest and be notified when it goes live, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Caption: Leamington Spa town centre
Supporting Silvertime Legal back to post Covid-19 recovery
A specialist legal company has invested in an online e-commerce platform after receiving support from Warwickshire County Council’s new £300,000 business support programme to help SMEs with their post Covid-19 recovery plans.
Survive Sustain and Grow is a free initiative that provides an enhanced business consultancy service for all micro and SMEs based in Warwickshire and offers a tailored recovery support package through its network of specialist consultants.
The programme is part of an overall £5 million package of investment which has been approved by Warwickshire County Council’s Cabinet to help businesses on the road to recovery and boost the economy.
Silvertime Legal, which is based at one of Warwickshire County Council’s Business Centres at the Centenary Business Park in Hammond Close, Nuneaton, provides bespoke estate planning advice around complex legal matters such as wills, trusts and lasting power of attorneys.
The company had traded successfully pre-Covid-19 and was on target to further grow their business in 2021 until the global pandemic.
Given the company’s traditional sales model of face-to-face meetings and home visits, the lockdown had a devastating effect and overnight sales stopped, forcing the company to take up several Government initiatives such as the business rate grant and Bounce Back Loan Scheme to maintain a level of financial stability.
During this early period, Warwickshire County Council provided further support to Silvertime Legal with a three-month rent-free period.
Duncan Haldane, WCC Business Centre Manager, said: “Once lockdown was imposed back in March 2020, we had to act quickly to see how we could best support our diverse range of tenants across our network of Business Centres. The decision was taken to provide a three-month rent-free period to all tenants which has allowed businesses like Silvertime Legal some breathing space and time to re-evaluate its business strategy.”
However, whilst all this support was welcome with the backdrop of the extended lockdown, the company still had no revenue streams and was considering its options in ways to substantially reduce its operational overheads which included redundancies.
It was at this point that Sumant Passi contacted Warwickshire County Council to enrol onto its Survive, Sustain and Grow programme.
Sumant Passi, Silvertime Legal Operations Director, said: “Throughout the lockdown period we struggled as a business and while the associated financial burdens were stressful, we were more concerned as to how we could safeguard our company and its employees. We needed to look at different ways in how to continue selling our products and having always been a traditional business we were at a loss.
“Through the engagement with the WCC Survive, Sustain and Grow programme, we were able to get clarity and our consultant Jagdish Soor assisted in helping us develop a robust business strategy that identified not only the challenges we faced but the opportunities that were open to us as a business which has now led us to invest in an online e-commerce platform that will enable us to sell the majority of our services and products online. Jagdish has also signposted us to possible grant funding that will support our online investment.
“Warwickshire County Council’s various support initiatives have been invaluable to us as enterprises not only in allowing us to redefine our business model during these difficult times but knowing that we now have a plan in place that will safeguard our future.”
To find out more and to register, visit our “Survive, Sustain and Grow” pages
Re-setting the economy
The economic recovery plan for Warwickshire was among the topics discussed by the County Council and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in a virtual support session.
Ian O'Donnell MBE, FSB Director and Warwickshire-based business owner, hosted the Warwickshire Online Business Support event to give SME owners throughout the county the chance to find out what support is available from Warwickshire County Council and the FSB.
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Leader of Warwickshire County Council, highlighted the support for businesses available from the local authority as well as business support organisations in the area to help companies survive and adapt to different working practices.
She said: “The seminar was a great way of promoting the wide range of schemes and measures for creating Covid secure workplaces that have been put in place since the Coronavirus pandemic began.
“We reacted extremely quickly since we knew it would be crucial to help businesses as quickly as possible for their short, medium and long-term future.
“There is a great deal of support available from the County Council for small businesses and start-ups in Warwickshire but sometimes it is a case of knowing where to look.
“That’s why we have created dedicated pages on our website to highlight the support for businesses and suppliers that we are providing, as well as business support organisations such as the FSB and CWLEP Growth Hub, because it is important we all work together for the benefit of business in our area as well as Coventry and Warwickshire’s economy.
“The County Council has agreed an initial £5 million of investment to help businesses in Warwickshire begin the recovery process from the overwhelming impact of Covid-19, through a variety of support programmes.
“We have put together an economic recovery plan for Warwickshire as we look to re-shape our economy, and continue to build strong relationships with our partners and key stakeholders to help SMEs, and those who are looking to set-up their own businesses, to provide them with the information and support that they need.”
FSB’s National Chairman, Mike Cherry OBE, also provided an update on its national activity for small business owners and the self-employed.
He covered how the FSB has helped to support members, the interventions the FSB has secured from Government for small firms and the forthcoming priorities as small businesses look to re-open safely and recover.
There was also the opportunity to find out more about the FSB’s support for its members and all small businesses in and around Warwickshire.
Ian O’Donnell said: “It is clear that partners across the region are focused on providing support for small businesses and the self-employed to help them weather the challenges ahead and grow the local economy.
“FSB members welcome the activity underway across Warwickshire and the important commitments around supporting town centres, future careers and employability to boost small business recovery.
“This is the third business support webinar the FSB has held with our councils across the area. They have been well received in keeping small firms informed of the targeted help on offer from our local authorities across Coventry, Solihull and now Warwickshire.
“This support is vital and the FSB will continue to work with our local stakeholders and partners to help small businesses survive and grow at this particular time.”
For information about support for businesses and suppliers from Warwickshire County Council, see: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/coronavirusbusinesssupport
For advice and guidance for small businesses and the self-employed from the FSB, see: https://www.fsb.org.uk/campaign/covid19.html
For details of all support to help your business recover from Covid-19, contact CWLEP Growth Hub: https://coronavirus.cwgrowthhub.co.uk
To view a recording of the webinar, visit https://vimeo.com/456953284
Art for public spaces in Warwickshire
Warwickshire County Council has approved funding for the Art Challenge – a new project which will create art in public spaces across the county.
Cabinet approved £150,000 to be allocated from the Place Shaping and Capital Feasibility Fund for the Art Challenge. The project, linking in with Coventry UK City of Culture 2021, will create attractive spaces that will encourage shoppers to visit, while at the same time supporting safe movement and social distancing around towns. The initiative will also encourage active travel by creating areas that are attractive to walk to, and through.
Place curators will be commissioned to work with local artists to deliver schemes across the county, as well as to help deliver a £194k capital grant from the Government’s Getting Building Fund through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) to deliver artist schemes in the north of the county.
The step is part of an ongoing strategy to boost the local economy, and support small businesses in particular to recover from the impact of the pandemic.
The Art Challenge is one of five projects that are now underway which have been funded out of a £4m allocation from the £7.5m Place Shaping Fund. This was agreed by the County Council in June to support economic recovery and is part of the county council’s overarching recovery plan.
Other projects receiving funding from the Place Shaping Fund are:
· Free access for independent high street micro businesses to the County Council’s Employee Assistance Programme - a network of counsellors who can support employees with their mental health in light of the emotional strain some are feeling following lockdown measures.
· A marketing and promotion campaign to promote Warwickshire as a safe destination for tourism. £75,000 has been allocated to support this project which will focus on promoting rural tourism to the UK market and will complement the existing activity supporting small, independent tourism businesses.
· A Tech Challenge. £80,000 has been allocated towards a competition encouraging projects to help the retail and cultural sectors. The challenge will encourage businesses to include a digital approach in their process, and will increase skills levels and retain jobs.
· Survive, Sustain and Grow – a scheme offering intensive business support on a 1:1 basis. Specialist advisers will be available free of charge to business owners to review the business, its finances, explore potential for diversification and growth options and work together to develop an action plan. Nearly £300,000 has already been agreed by the Leader of the Council for this scheme which will prioritise sectors most hit by the Covid-19 crisis, notably retail, tourism, leisure and manufacturing.
Cllr Peter Butlin, Warwickshire County Council’s Deputy Leader and portfolio holder for finance and property, said: “We’re delighted to approve the funding for the Art Challenge and add it to the comprehensive package of support for businesses that is underpinning our plan for economic recovery.”
You can find out more about these projects as they come on stream throughout the autumn, by keeping an eye on the Warwickshire County Council website: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/coronavirusbusinesssupport
Jobs saved and created by Government loan scheme
More than 450 jobs have been saved at Coventry and Warwickshire businesses from a Government Covid-19 loan scheme – and other firms have been urged to access the support.
The Coventry and Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust (CWRT) has handed out over £4.5 million since June to businesses across the sub-region on behalf of the British Business Bank as part of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).
CWRT has collaborated with Warwickshire County Council, the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP), Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, Rugby Borough Council, Warwick District Council and Coventry City Council to make £6.25 million of investment available to local businesses who are experiencing lost or deferred revenues, leading to disruptions to their cashflow.
They have been supported by the CWLEP Growth Hub, the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses.
The funding has led to 453 jobs being saved and 56 jobs being created in Coventry and Warwickshire via CBILS which has now been extended until the end of the year.
Leader of Warwickshire County Council, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, said: “Warwickshire County Council is incredibly proud to have developed a strong partnership with CWRT over many years, helping provide funding to support much-needed loans to our business community when other mainstream finance opportunities were not possible.
“It was a natural development of our partnership to expand our investment to provide further support to the CBILS initiative, and we moved swiftly to release funding at an early stage and we are pleased to have led the way in terms of investment in the business community from the local authorities.”
Sheridan Sulskis, Executive Director at CWRT, said many businesses had used the CBILS and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme to invest, grow and create jobs, not just survive.
She said: “I am incredibly proud of how we have come together in these unprecedented times to make sure that our crucial, collaborative interventions can facilitate the survival of local businesses, protect local jobs and, in some cases, create new employment opportunities.
“Together we are helping to create an environment for individuals and businesses to better position themselves to generate opportunities and withstand the impact of economic shocks by becoming more economically resilient.
“We have provided loans to a wide range of micro and SMEs including those in the automotive, manufacturing, retail, wholesale, health and social care, and IT and communications sectors.
“The majority have used the CBILS to ease cashflow problems but there is also quite a lot of optimism in the business community with some using the money to diversify, grow or take on extra staff.
“We want to encourage more businesses to access CBILS particularly with the furlough scheme coming to an end the following month.”
For further information, visit www.cwrt.uk.com or www.cwgrowthhub.co.uk
CWRT is one of large number of accredited CBILS lenders including all the major banks.
For more details, visit https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-schemes/
Caption: Sheridan Sulskis, Executive Director at CWRT
On target for more growth
A Coleshill-based telecoms business is on course to double one of its growth targets following support from Warwickshire County Council.
G Comms, based on Gorsey Lane, has already taken on six new staff since receiving a grant from the County Council and is looking to add another six by 2021.
It comes as the firm celebrates its fifth anniversary, moving to new premises and is helping to deploy 5G networks across the region.
G Comms has invested in a new specialised forklift, cardboard baler and racking at its new premises to support the growth of the company, which was part funded by a Small Capital Grant of £27,800 from Warwickshire County Council.
Managing Director Claire Greenwood has 25 years of telecom industry experience and says that the Covid-19 pandemic has led the business to continue expanding, as working from home has become the norm.
She said: “We’re growing very quickly and the last few months we have been working around the clock to support our clients with delivery of 4G and 5G telecoms infrastructure.
“We help network providers and telecoms professionals focus on core competencies and stay competitive in the marketplace.
“The business had outgrown its previous premises and we knew we had to move to be able to facilitate the ever increasing demand for our services.
“While we were at our previous premises Simeon Lee from Warwickshire County Council visited us and helped us to apply for the grant.
“We needed a lot of capital to complete the premises move and ensure the equipment was exactly what we needed to thrive, and the grant has really helped us to do this.
“The County Council was really helpful with finance and business advice too, giving us some guidance around the risks and challenges of growing a business.
“In our grant application we said we hoped to employ six new permanent staff and we have already surpassed that goal – it’s looking like we will actually double our original target.
“We’re taking on more staff because Covid has proven that people can work at home, and to work at home productively they need good access to the internet. This has put pressure on the telecoms industry and budgets have started to loosen up.
“We have an exciting future ahead of us, enhancing what we already do and looking to invest further into our own logistics and technical capabilities including stage and test facilities.”
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Leader of Warwickshire County Council and portfolio holder for economic development, said: “This is a wonderful example of what we are seeking to achieve. Obviously, the grants are key to helping a business to make the next step and expand but advice and guidance to support them is just as important. I’m delighted that we have been able to offer G Comms such a package of support and their taking on additional staff is precisely the outcome that we are looking for.”
The advice for the company was delivered as part of the “CW Business – Start, Grow and Scale” project which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Warwickshire County Council.
Caption: G Comms in Coleshill
Warwickshire County Council welcomes the launch of Kickstart
Warwickshire County Council has welcomed the launch of the Government’s Kickstart scheme and is encouraging local employers to get involved. As part of the Government’s Plan for Jobs, a new £2 billion Kickstart Scheme will create hundreds of thousands of new, fully subsidised jobs for young people across the country.
The County’s Business Skills Support team shall soon be launching a bespoke Warwickshire wrap around package, where additional services will be provided to broaden the national offer and support Warwickshire businesses to tap into local partnerships and funding opportunities.
From September 2020, Warwickshire’s Business Skills Advisors will work with businesses to offer one-to-one virtual support for those wishing to participate in the scheme, apply for additional Warwickshire funding and evaluate how the scheme will work for their business now and in the future.
As a unique addition to the Warwickshire package, the county’s business support experts will also be equipped and ready to help businesses plan a swift economic recovery through a wider set of support measures, completely bespoke to business need.
Here’s a snapshot of the Warwickshire Kickstart Wrap Around Support:
· Business Skills Review – Explore skills needs and potential roles
· Job Carving – Which Apprenticeships fit the roles identified
· Apply for Warwickshire Apprenticeship funding
· Option to Produce a Warwickshire Career film piece
· Support to Register to National Kickstart Scheme.
· Engage with nominated Intermediary team.
· Quick access to additional Business Support and Warwickshire funding.
What we know about the Kickstart Scheme national offer so far:
The six-month placements are open to those aged 16-24 who are claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment. They will be available across a range of different sectors in England, Scotland and Wales, and the first placements are likely to be available from November.
There will also be extra funding to support young people to build their experience and help them move into sustained employment after they have completed their Kickstart funded job.
Employers will receive funding for 100 per cent of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum auto-enrolment pension contributions. There is also £1,500 per job placement available for set-up costs, support and training.
Applications are being accepted now from employers or groups of employers for a minimum of 30 job placements. If you are unable to offer this many job placements, you can partner with other organisations to reach the minimum number.
If you are a representative applying on behalf of a group of employers, £300 of funding is available to support with the associated administrative costs of bringing together these employers.
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Leader of Warwickshire County Council, said: “This is a great opportunity for businesses in Warwickshire to receive financial help and support with employing young people who will develop the valuable skills and experience they need for their future careers.
“In these difficult times, this scheme accompanied by our own Warwickshire Wrap Around support is particularly aimed at young people who are at the most risk from long-term unemployment.
“The job placements must be for new jobs so this is an ideal opportunity for Warwickshire employers, however large or small and in any sector, looking to recruit young people to gain help with the financial costs involved in taking on staff.”
Any organisation, regardless of size, can apply for funding but they must not replace existing or planned vacancies, or cause existing employees or contractors to lose or reduce their employment.
Each application from businesses should include how employers will help participants develop their skills and experience, including:
· support to look for long-term work, including career advice and setting goals
· support with CV and interview preparations
· supporting the participant with basic skills, such as attendance, timekeeping and teamwork
Once a job placement is created, it can be taken up by a second person once the first successful applicant has completed their six-month term.
For more information about Kickstart and how to get involved contact Michaelsharman@warwickshire.gov.uk
Caption: The Kickstart scheme
New package of business support introduced by the Government
Warwickshire businesses and employees will benefit from the Chancellor’s new package of support to further protect jobs and companies.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a range of measures on Thursday to allow the economy to move forward with the furlough scheme due to come to an end next month.
The Government has launched a new Jobs Support Scheme for six months to give businesses the option of keeping people in their jobs on shorter hours rather than making them redundant.
This will mean employees who work at least 33 per cent of their normal hours being paid for that as normal with the Government and employers jointly covering the remaining two-thirds of their lost pay so that employees keep their jobs.
This will target firms that need it the most, meaning all SMEs are eligible and only larger businesses if they can prove they have lost turnover during Covid-19.
The existing grant for self-employed people is to be extended on similar terms to the Jobs Support Scheme.
The Chancellor also announced a Pay as you Grow scheme for businesses to enable them to extend their Bounce Back Loans from six to 10 years which will halve their monthly re-payments.
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme along with all the other loan schemes the Government had previously introduced has been extended until the end of December, giving Warwickshire businesses more time to apply and take advantage of the loan.
The temporary reduction of VAT from 20 per cent to 5 per cent in some sectors will remain unchanged until March 31 next year, boosting the sub-region’s hospitality and tourism sectors.
Warwickshire businesses urged to prepare for new Covid-19 measures
Businesses in Warwickshire are being urged to ensure they are ready for the introduction of new Covid-19 measures across the country.
Pubs, bars and restaurants are only allowed to be open until 10pm and must only provide table service – with face coverings mandatory for bar staff, waiters and non-seated customers.
Businesses should only allow tables of up to six to be booked and ask customers to avoid mingling with others outside of their six.
The new NHS Test and Trace App was introduced on Thursday, September 24 and all public-facing businesses are required to display a QR code poster at entrances.
The new app has a range of features that will help reduce personal and public risk from Covid-19 as part of the wider test and tracing services.
Warwickshire County Council is urging all such businesses to download the QR code posters as soon as possible.
The NHS QR code and check-in function is in addition to existing measures. Venues in Warwickshire which are legally required to collect and keep a record of visitors, need to continue to do so, for up to 21 days.
Additional measures introduced include:
· People should work from home wherever possible
· Face coverings compulsory for shop workers
· Limit on guests at weddings reduced from 30 to 15
· Plans to allow fans to return to sporting events paused
· "Rule of six" now applies to indoor team sports
· Fines for not wearing masks or following rules increased to £200 for a first offence
Warwickshire County Council is establishing a dedicated Covid-19 Prevention and Response team, which will be responsible for supporting workplaces in preventing and responding to incidents.
The team has already responded to nine outbreaks in local workplaces and public settings, and is making pro-active contact to ensure Covid secure measures are in place and that employers are aware of their responsibilities.
A letter has been issued to licenced premises and hospitality venues in Warwickshire to urge businesses to comply with the rules and give advice on how to maximise protection for customers, to reduce the need for further local and national measures.
Businesses can now be fined (up to £10k) for non-compliance with Covid-secure measures.
The Covid-19 Prevention and Response Team has also been engaging with Primary Authorities for supermarkets to encourage strengthening of their measures.
Pro-active engagement with and visits to barbers and hairdressers are also being planned.
A newly-commissioned local testing service has been mobilised for a number of workplace screening activities to date and has proved to be a valuable resource to help identify asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic cases to reduce workplace transmission.
To download the QR poster for display go to www.gov.uk/create-coronavirus-qr-poster
For further advice, support or assistance regarding your business and carrying out risk assessments please contact email@example.com.
A Q&A advice webinar will be held next week on Tuesday from 4pm-5pm. Please see the events section for the link – ‘COVID Secure - Understanding the Latest Guidance for Businesses - Your Questions Answered’.