Council’s grants help local businesses weather the pandemic storm

Diversification grants totalling more than £112,000 have helped a raft of local high street businesses thrive over the last 16 months despite the unprecedented challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Council’s grants help local businesses weather the pandemic storm

Located across the six borough town high streets, 32 local businesses were successful in applying for Telford & Wrekin Council’s diversification grants, each receiving between £1,000 and the maximum £4,000 funding.

The grants, which form part of Telford & Wrekin’s Council’s wider Pride in Our High Streets “Revive & Thrive” programme, were specifically created in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and its associated restrictions. Their goal was to support the borough’s independent high street businesses in the face of on-line competition through the pandemic, whilst also helping ensure that the borough’s high streets bounce back and increase the range and opportunity for Telford and Wrekin’s shoppers supporting ‘shop local’.

Local businesses used the grants to fund equipment, new products, digital innovations and expansions to enable them to continue trading competitively through the pandemic, diversify their offer and futureproof their businesses.

Work enabled by the grants has included a website to take yoga and Pilates classes online for Tina Carter Wellness Studio in Newport; a delivery vehicle for Nanny’s Craft Bakery in Wellington; an e-commerce website enabling local delivery and kerbside pickup for drinks retailer, Moonshine and Fuggles, in Ironbridge; expansion of the business to incorporate a leisure fashion and cosmetic shop at the premises for the Laura Deighton Dance Company in Dawley; marketing material for Flares Hairdressers in Madeley; an e-commerce website for clothing hire company, Kings, in Oakengates; and sound equipment to run online music events for Gratitude Café & Music Venue in Wellington.

Kristiyan Dimitrov, whose bakery business – Nanny’s Craft Bakery – benefited from a £4,000 diversification grant from the council said:

“Ever since we’ve opened our doors, the community has welcomed us and shown us wonderful support, with lots of customers returning time and time again.”

After being closed for a month due to Covid-19 restrictions, the bakery changed its business model, using its diversification grant award to buy a vehicle enabling the business to make deliveries and supply products to other shops.

Cllr Lee Carter, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood, Commercial and Regeneration, said:

“Kris and Nanny’s Bakery are exactly the kind of business our Pride in Our High Street scheme aims to support: entrepreneurs providing a service and helping maintain the unique nature of the retail offer across the borough.

“The recent crisis has demonstrated how important it is for a high street business to be able to adapt and diversify to survive. This grant has helped businesses to diversify, both to react to difficult times but also to capitalise on new opportunities.

“The survival of our high streets is essential to thriving local communities and they are important contributors to successful local economies.

“Whilst the current diversification grant programme has now ended, we are now moving into phase three of our Pride in Our High Streets programme, which will see an expansion of the Revive and Thrive grant programme to include new digital and green initiatives to further support our high street businesses and increase sustainability in the borough.”