The Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Growth Hub has launched two funds, from a total pot of £872,000, to help support Small to Medium businesses (SMEs).

SMEs whose trade is 100% business to business can apply to the SME Restart Programme and SMEs located in a tourist area and dependent on visitors can apply to the Kickstarting Tourism Programme - both are subject to eligibility.

Nicola Kent, Growth Hub Manager, said: “The Growth Hub is pleased to have been able to support Staffordshire businesses throughout the pandemic and we are thrilled to have this European Regional Development Fund money at a time when it couldn’t be more vital for many businesses, especially those in the tourism sector. We hope these small grants will help our economy to recover and enable businesses to bounce back stronger than ever.

“The funding will be distributed on a first come, first served basis, so I would urge businesses to complete the expression of interest form. We have set up a dedicated web page on the Staffordshire County Council website, where people can read FAQs and fill in the form to check if they meet the criteria. Those who are eligible will be sent an application pack so they can make a formal request.”

Businesses can use the funding to seek professional advice or purchase small pieces of equipment or technology that will assist them in their economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. For example, to purchase contactless payment solutions or software enhancements that will develop innovative ways of working. Businesses can use the funds to purchase equipment to help diversify their business to enhance productivity, as they adapt to the changes brought about by COVID-19.

Andrea Sammons, Senior Marketing Officer for Enjoy Staffordshire, said: “Tourism contributes £1.85bn per year to Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent's economy, as well as providing over 32,000 jobs. These grants can make all the difference for many small and micro tourism, hospitality and leisure businesses such as B&Bs, tea rooms and small visitor attractions.

“The funds can be used for HR, accountants, legal, financial, digital or sector specialists, as well as to develop innovative delivery in a socially distanced economy. For example, new ways of delivering cultural events and festivals that are so critical to the visitor experience.”

To express an interest, please click here

Businesses can benefit from free help and advice from a dedicated Covid-19 section on the Growth Hub website. The Growth Hub offers guidance in all areas of business, including business advice, growth and recovery, funding and finance, HR and marketing. The programmes are funded by the European Union and any business in receipt of a grant will be agreeing to abide by EU funding rules.

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