Business Durham interim managing director Sarah Slaven reveals details of a new Covid business support brochure to help local firms…

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to provide an uncertain backdrop for the economy in County Durham and beyond.

With that uncertainty comes the challenges our businesses face in not only dealing with the here and now of operating their company and fulfilling customer expectations, but understanding that support is available to them and that they are not acting alone.

Our priority is to help guide businesses across the county to get the help they need in the wake of the biggest economic disruption in living memory.

The world has never changed so rapidly, and we are keen to make sure companies have the help they need to develop new and innovative solutions, and to access the support available to either get back on track, seize new opportunities or do both.

The recent local restrictions, and now a second national lockdown, are a prime example of how the Covid-19 crisis will continue to affect businesses in different ways and at different times, often unexpectedly. We are working closely with companies to help them address the challenges arising from the pandemic and support them in the months ahead.

As the economic development arm of Durham County Council, Business Durham has created a new Covid-19 Business Support Brochure to highlight the wide-ranging support available to firms across the county to help safeguard jobs and retain businesses in County Durham.

Our easy-to-use guide brings together key information, resources and advice for businesses that are looking for help navigating the opportunities on offer.

The brochure focuses on eight key categories of assistance including grants, loans and equity, business support, digital support, innovation, sector support, skills, recruitment and training, business startup and employee welfare.

Through our network of business support organisations from across the North-East we are highlighting 46 programmes providing help for companies to build their resilience and get back on track.

Programmes include help to trade internationally from the Department for International Trade, support for starting up a business from the North East Enterprise Agency, and targeted sector programme, Supply Chain North East, as well as our own support programmes.

One of the entries included in the brochure is our ERDF-funded Digital Drive County Durham programme which aims to help businesses to become more resilient, efficient and profitable, gaining a competitive edge by using digital technology.

Now more than ever, businesses must be adaptable and we’re here to provide the practical support and resources to help them embrace the future through embedding a digital mindset.

Another example of the support available is a new strand of our ERDF-funded Durham Business Opportunities Programme (DBOP) focusing on Covid Recovery Support for Micro and Small Businesses.

Businesses employing up to 15 people can take advantage of one-to-one professional sales and marketing advice to help attract customers and boost sales following the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

With typically tight margins, micro and small businesses are particularly vulnerable to economic downturn. It is therefore vital we support these companies throughout the crisis, as they play an important role in ensuring our communities thrive and will be crucial in creating jobs and securing economic growth in the future.

The DBOP Covid Recovery Support for Micro and Small Businesses Programme is all about increasing sales, raising your business profile, and helping you get back on track. I encourage all County Durham micro and small businesses to take advantage of the scheme.

Working jointly with Durham County Council and the County Durham Economic Partnership, our Business Support Brochure is part of ongoing efforts to assist companies across County Durham.

In these unprecedented times, it is vital that we come together with regional and national partners to help protect businesses, communities and jobs in County Durham by ensuring companies can access all available support and financial assistance to enable them to continue operating.

Making best use of the programmes and resources available, we can continue to build business resilience, support the local economy and get County Durham ready for recovery. By supporting each other we can survive and thrive together.

Sarah Slaven
Interim managing director, Business Durham