A coronavirus recovery grant scheme has been paused after over 600 Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire businesses expressed interest.
The Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Growth Hub, which is distributing the grants, said applications have been received by Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) since the scheme launched on September 3.
Nicola Kent, Growth Hub manager, said:
We have received an overwhelming amount of Expression of Interest applications, which the team is currently working through. To ensure the correct distribution of the funds, we took the decision to put the schemes on hold on September 15, whilst we assess these.
We’d like to thank the businesses who have expressed their interest. We have been thrilled with the amazing volume of responses and we are proud to be overseeing the schemes. We anticipate these funds will help around 250 Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire SMEs. If there are funds remaining after this process, then we will reopen the schemes and notify businesses through our marketing channels and our newsletter.”
The Growth Hub launched two funds, from a total pot of £872,000, to provide grants of up to £3,000. Funding was split between the SME Restart Programme and Kickstarting Tourism grant schemes.
The grant money, designed to give SMEs access to new technology or advice as they adapt to new circumstances, has come from the European Regional Development Fund and is being distributed through Growth Hubs.
Sectors which have expressed their interest include: telecommunications, engineering, marketing and design consultants, training providers, digital software specialists, print and media companies, B&Bs, tearooms and farm cottages.
Businesses have applied to use the funding for: the development of integrated internet booking systems, the development of apps and contactless payments, IT enhancements to enable remote working and conference call facilities, HR and accountancy advice, transitions from face-to-face to digital ways of working, digital marketing advice and enabling adaptations following the effects of Covid-19.
Nicola Kent added:
I would urge businesses to contact the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Growth Hub because even if they can no longer apply to this grant scheme, there may be other funding or advice services which they are eligible for that we can help with.”
The grants are being distributed on a first come, first served basis, and more information can be found on the Growth Hub website