February 23, 2021 @ 12:14 by Richard Dawson
A new £5 million grant fund has been accessed by 36 businesses across County Durham to help them implement recovery plans to overcome the coronavirus pandemic.
The Durham Business Recovery Grant was launched on January 14 and is aimed at supporting COVID-19-hit businesses develop new product or enter new markets.
To date, more than £364,000 has been awarded to 36 businesses of varying size in a range of sectors such as construction, business services, healthcare, retail, manufacturing and engineering and information services.
Moreover, two thirds of the applications approved are to businesses in the tourism, hospitality, leisure and retail sectors, which have been severely impacted by the pandemic.
The applications, which have been received from across the county, will help to safeguard up to 459 jobs.
Overseen by Business Durham, the grant scheme offers businesses with a clear recovery plan grants from £1000 up to £40,000.
The scheme is open to companies across County Durham, in all sectors and varying in size from micro-businesses to those employing up to 250 people in the county.
Councillor Carl Marshall, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “We are really pleased to see the range of businesses that are coming forward with clear plans for how the recovery grant can help them get their business back on track for the future and safeguard vital jobs and livelihoods in the county.
“We appreciate how difficult the last year has been for businesses and it is vital that we do what we can to help businesses recover and look to the future.
“This is why Durham County Council agreed to provide a substantial £5 million worth of support for the Durham Business Recovery Grant scheme, demonstrating our commitment to local businesses, enabling them to adapt and thrive, safeguarding jobs and developing a sustainable economy for the long term.”
Businesses can apply for the grant to support changes to business or operational models which may incur costs to implement including adaptations to premises, new product development or the cost of new machinery.
The funding cannot be used for acquiring premises, purchase of non-specialist vehicles or for stock.
Sarah Slaven, interim managing director of Business Durham, said: “Over the past year County Durham businesses have displayed significant resilience, tremendous agility, adaptability and innovation, which has enabled many to diversify to survive by selling to new markets and manufacturing different products.
“The grant allows businesses with credible plans to unlock their potential providing the much-needed funds to take advantage of their vision in tackling the ongoing crisis.”