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Recession help for local businesses

PUBLISHED: 11:00 29 October 2009 | UPDATED: 10:03 13 July 2010

Mary Hamilton

A £1.1m recession recovery package could help north Norfolk work its way out of the downturn.

Officers at North Norfolk District Council have proposed a raft of measures to help businesses during the economic crisis and ease the way towards recovery.

A £1.1m recession recovery package could help north Norfolk work its way out of the downturn.

Officers at North Norfolk District Council have proposed a raft of measures to help businesses during the economic crisis and ease the way towards recovery.

But the plans - which include a platform for local companies to connect and do business, a fighting fund for struggling small organisations and mentoring for new start-ups - could be drastically cut if a bid for European funding is unsuccessful.

Between £150,000 and £200,000 of council cash and officers' time, along with at least £400,000 from partner organisations, will form part of a funding bid to Interreg, an organisation which promotes interregional cooperation between regions in the EU.

The district council's economic development manager Robin Smith hopes the bid will produce a total of £1.1m for projects to set the district on a secure footing for the difficult years ahead.

The council is pushing to create an environment where entrepreneurial spirit can thrive and business start-ups are encouraged, bringing leaner, more sustainable companies into the economy.

It is also encouraging inward investment in large projects such as the county's commitment to offshore wind farms including the Sheringham Shoal, and a large skills school planned in Wells which could provide training and education specifically for energy sector workers, bringing mass investment into the district's 45-mile coastline.

The recession action plan will be put to the council's cabinet next week for approval.

But the council's project manager for skills and partnership, John Morgan, said funding shortfalls could mean drastic cuts to the proposals.

“If we were unsuccessful with the Interreg funding we would have to scale back our vision, with a view to possibly cancelling some actions and taking some smaller actions,” he said.

The recovery plans are designed to deal with the unique situation in north Norfolk, where the economy consists mostly of small businesses which slip under the radar for big government support packages.

The proposals have been welcomed by business leaders. Caroline Williams, chief executive of the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce said: “It will be business that drives Norfolk out of the recession so any new packages of support that can be made available to them is good news.

“Small businesses in particular are finding it very tough. New additional help accessing finance, understanding procurement and developing the skills of their staff will enable them to not only survive the recession but to grow.

“A stronger vibrant North Norfolk economy will encourage investment attracting new jobs in addition to supporting current businesses.”


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