“We have helped business all around the county – there is an example in every area from Dordon to Stratford and Polesworth to Rugby.”
A Warwickshire County Council scheme launched to help small businesses in the hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors has reached more than 100 businesses in its first 10 months.
Project Warwickshire, designed to help businesses bounce back from the pandemic, is being delivered by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce for the County Council.
The project, with £320,000 of County Council funding supplemented by £230,000 of European Regional Development Fund money, will enable the Chamber to implement a wide range of support through to April 2024.
Project Warwickshire has already interacted with 117 businesses, of which more than 50 are receiving support. Skilled and experienced business advisors have supported businesses with developing their marketing strategy, pricing and competitor analysis, workforce planning and Digital Marketing including website and Social Media activities to enable growth.
The project also highlights potential grants, with several referrals to other County Council grants schemes including the Duplex Investment Fund and Small Capital Grants scheme.
To date, 36% of businesses assisted are cafes, pubs, bars or bakeries while 64% have a leisure or experiential offer such as boating, wine tasting, cooking workshops, minibus tours, glamping or bouncy castle hire.
Cllr Kam Kaur, Warwickshire County Council’s former Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place, said: “Project Warwickshire came out of our recovery programme and commitment to support micro and macro businesses, particularly those that have been recently created.
“It has been brilliant in several ways. It has provided valuable advice to businesses quickly, we have worked with our partners really closely and we supported the brilliant small businesses which work so hard to power our communities. We have helped business all around the county – there is an example in every area from Dordon to Stratford and Polesworth to Rugby.”
The tourism, leisure and hospitality sectors were among the hardest hit by lockdown in 2020. Tourism previously translated into significant economic value for the local economy, with Warwickshire’s tourism sector contributing £858 million towards local GVA -approximating to 6.7% of the county’s total economic value. The sector employed 22,123 people as of 2019, equating to 8% of Warwickshire’s total workforce.
Project Warwickshire, involving partners including Shakespeare’s England and Northern Warwickshire Tourism, is helping the sector recover by encouraging businesses to look at their future wants and needs.
“Partnership is key,” said Cllr Kaur. “The County Council is delighted to provide the funding for Project Warwickshire but we could not deliver this on our own and our partners have the connections and resources to help.
“Our Economy & Skills team is fantastic and very busy, so this shows the power of collaboration. We needed to get this support out quickly so that we can really support the businesses who needed to think ahead and work out what their future will look like post-pandemic. We couldn’t do it on our own.
“We have helped so many companies like Go Cotswolds who have upgraded their customer experience so much that they have more bookings then they had pre-pandemic. That is exactly what Project Warwickshire is all about.
“Shakespeare’s Schoolroom is another great example. The Business Minister, Paul Scully, visited last week and was blown away by what has been done there and by Project Warwickshire as a whole.”
Project Warwickshire is funded by Warwickshire County Council and the European Regional Development Fund as part of the CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale project. It is delivered, on behalf of Warwickshire County Council, by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with Shakespeare’s England also working with Northern Warwickshire Tourism.
* For more information visit the Project Warwickshire Website or email BusinessSupport@cw-chamber.co.uk